It’s always a challenge to change people’s perceptions when they are sure they know exactly what you do based on a single definition or experience. Let’s say, for example, that your only experience with a cheeseburger is McDonald’s and then you go to a gourmet restaurant and order one. If the server starts to ask what extras you want on your burger would you say: “it’s a cheeseburger. Aren’t they all the same?”
In the same vein, what if I told you that not all inventory ad technology is the same? I’m sure that would spark a fairly spirited discussion about what exactly inventory ad technology is and how it can help. (Caveat: among a group of ad nerds) In Retail Auto, only ~25% of dealers are using inventory ads. While that number is growing the complexities of making inventory ads work well are many.
When is inventory advertising more than just putting cars in an ad?
Take a look at your advertising mix, and you will find a few constants. For example, dealerships have been running radio ads since before you could drive. Along with Print and TV, these are still significant parts of many ad budgets. Often typical display ads are included with these mediums. Sure, you can put inventory (a picture of a car) in a typical display ad, but these are the “McDonald's cheeseburger” of display ads. They typically showcase events, and they are what the industry knows display to be. In fact, when you buy TV or Radio - Display often become “the Fries with that!” (Unless of course, you’re working with one of our many great partners who get SpeedShift to help power their ads.)
There are other cheeseburgers out there, and intelligent dynamic inventory display advertising is the top shelf of Cheeseburgers. << Click here if this is before lunch.
Like regular display advertising, dynamic inventory ads are always there, always reminding the consumers about your dealership or the stores of your customers. However, unlike typical display, dynamic inventory ads go beyond simply promoting events, offers or make and model. They are dynamically generated to feature live inventory from your lot. Additionally, advanced inventory ads will learn from the consumer’s online behavior and automatically adjust the ad to fit their preferences better.
As marketers and salespeople, we are always looking for tools to help us automate the process of finding qualified buyers. Dynamic inventory ads are automating inventory promotion by taking all of your inventory, finding the right customers and showing your vehicles to the most appropriate people without you having to lift a finger in the process.
It’s a long-term tool that just keeps working to find the buyers you want. Unlike typical ads, this advertising is not tied to a single campaign, but to your live inventory. As long as the stores you represent have cars on your lot, dynamic inventory advertising has work to do and consumers to find. When the buyer is ready to make their purchase, they'll know which dealership to go to.
The problem with switching off for a few months - Campaign Based Advertising
In the marketing and advertising world, we often hear, “It’s a quiet time of year, I want to save some money until sales pick up.” Now, there are some obvious problems with this statement, much like the chicken and the egg. But, we always explain that this is just as counterintuitive as sending your sales team home for the same reason. You may have fewer people on the floor - but you don’t close the doors.
What the vast majority of automotive retailers don’t realize is that the inventory advertisements the consumer sees are just the tip of the iceberg. The amount of machine learning that comes from delivering that advertising can’t be overstated. Online, every click and query is recorded and cataloged in SpeedShift’s MarketMatch Data Engine - Our Data Management Platform (DMP). These behaviors follow your potential buyers through their browsing and research over time, let’s assume 60 to 90 days. A good DMP will be learning about users, what they like and don’t like. This is machine learning. When all of the views and clicks come together the DMP engine knows one buyer is interested in a 2018 Volvo s60 T6 Polestar with AWD in black and another buyer is decided on the 2018 BMW 440i Gran Coupe with XDrive. Don’t view these ads only as advertisements for the cars available at your local dealership today, instead, see them as little intelligence gathering tools for the cars you’ll sell next week, next month and next quarter.
When I hear that a dealership wants to turn off their inventory ads for a short time, I caution them that this is like turning a deaf ear to your buyer’s proclamations of their needs and wants. You are halting not only the ad engine but the learning engine also–the information gathering tool that is dynamic inventory advertising. I explain this and advise a simple solution, "Don’t turn it off entirely, if you must, reduce your spend. This way your 'virtual team' can still gather information, it’s only been reduced to part-time hours."
So much of the marketing world is turning to automation. Dynamic inventory advertising is automating the process of learning what the customer wants, finding where it is available and delivering that to the buyer on any device; mobile or wired.
Match.com for car buyers?
When someone asks for a quick overview of dynamic inventory advertising, I tell them it’s not unlike Match or eHarmony for car buyers. Dynamic inventory advertising learns a buyer’s likes and dislikes in order to present them with the most relevant matches in their vehicle research, some left or right swipes may still be required to find your true love.
One of my team members brought up that this was not unlike an automated, needs analysis or discovery conversation tool for the dealership. Similar to the questions a sales associate will ask you when you arrive on site at the dealership, dynamic inventory advertising technology is learning through your research, clicks and consumer’s path-to-purchase while researching their next vehicle purchase.
The long-term workhorse
So where does dynamic inventory advertising fit into your long-term advertising plans? First, it isn’t the only solution, but it is part of the toolset that will get the right car in front of the right buyer at just the right time to increase your sales. Dynamic inventory advertising technology is always on and always learning about your ideal buyers, it doesn’t need a break, it won’t take a vacation, and it is everywhere your buyers are 24/7. Lastly, it’s the best matchmaker out there, it listens (which is more than you can say for most mates) and learns what your buyers want and makes sure that as long as you have it or something similar in stock, your buyers will know the car is available.
Dynamic inventory advertising may use images to display your inventory, but don’t call it display. It is so much more than a McDonald’s Cheeseburger.