Dealerships Increasing Sophistication In The Digital World

Most auto market observers who are following the ad money see it rushing online like traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel. But what has dropped under the radar is the role those dollars are playing at the local level, with the increasing sophistication of dealerships.

Princeton, N.J.-based media research firm Kelsey Group, whose Marketplaces program focuses on local-market tactics, says dealers are finding their place in the digital world.

The study, "Automotive and the Internet: A Category in Transition" predicts automotive advertising worldwide will stay at around $40 billion through 2011. Kelsey also sees online ad spend growing--from 5% of total this year to 13% by 2011, with traditional classified advertising decreasing from 14% to 10%, and newspapers' auto advertising sinking from 17% to 14%.

Peter Krasilovsky, Marketplaces program director for The Kelsey Group, tells Marketing Daily that the automotive, real estate and travel categories have experienced the greatest shift in marketing dollars to the Web compared to other verticals. "For the auto industry, the Internet represents an ongoing battle between third-party sites, OEM [original equipment manufacturers] sites and dealers," he says. But he adds that national and local marketers are finding which tactics are most effective. "It isn't winner-take-all."



Dealers, for instance--most of whom now have Internet sales staff--have become more sophisticated about putting inventory online, direct marketing to tout service, and using their own Web sites as marketing tools.

Meanwhile, consumers who are dedicated to specific brands are more likely to go to automaker OEM sites than to third-party sites, per Krasilovsky. "I think there is a realization that OEMs are not going to dominate the market, that dealers want their voice in the market. There is a realization that some people will go to the manufacturers' sites, and then there's a person who wants to shop different vehicles, and there are people who want to be part of the car universe and not just when they are buying a car."

He says that dealers are adding appointment-making capabilities to Web sites at the local level--and increasingly doing e-mail offers with coupons for services, even newsletters. "That's become more commonplace. Dealers are also using the Web to generate used car sales."

Next story loading loading..