The consolidation of the auto industry has forced automotive advertising agencies to take on new areas of responsibility that include integrating sales processes on the virtual showrooms being built on the Internet Super Highway with real world brick and mortar facilities. The internet has sparked new vendor applications and technologies that have forever changed the role of automotive advertising agencies who are challenged to match the message on the street with the message on both the real and virtual showroom floor. Technology has always determined the media used to deliver a targeted marketing message with human nature shaping the messages and methods to deliver it. The Internet and the impact that online social media is having on the shopping and buying habits of consumers is being reflected in the emerging technologies and applications focused on providing efficiencies and short term R.O.I. analytics for advertisers.
It is no longer enough for automotive advertising agencies to simply drive customers to their auto dealer client’s websites and/or showrooms. Until and unless their efforts can be sourced to specific vehicle sales and/or repair orders they have not earned their agency fees. Fortunately, new vendor applications have been developed to handle the warp speeds that customers are travelling on the Internet Super Highway. These integrated solutions are being consolidated into comprehensive platforms built on best in class applications that follow customers all the way to the showroom floor and/or the service drive — and beyond with after sales follow up to improve customer satisfaction and retention.
Technology vendors that provide specialized applications for the auto industry have been consolidating their products and services to improve selling processes by linking new and pre-owned vehicle sales with fixed operations. Efficiencies in processing customer contacts through integrated ILM and CRM systems tied to in store desking applications and DMS platforms allow automotive advertising agencies to manage and monitor customer contacts with a verifiable R.O.I.. This kind of R.O.I. analysis was not possible when sales and service functions were handled by individual vendor solutions that did not communicate efficiently with each other.
The consolidation in the automotive advertising technology sector has been evidenced by the increased market penetration by extensive product suites such as those offered by the ever expanding group of individual vendors that comprise Dominion. The recent acquisitions of Kelley Blue Book and vAuto by Auto Trader represent a recent consolidation of best in class vendor solutions to expand their iconic marketing platform. These complimentary products and services further differentiate Auto Trader from the competition and provide a more comprehensive product suite for the auto dealers that they serve. Similarly, individual vendors have extended their product suites to include applications that compliment their initial offerings such as the expanded marketing services being offered by Higher Gear to extend their CRM application and state of the art mobile applications recently added to eCarlist to compliment their inventory management/marketing platform.
These examples of best in class products and services offered by auto industry focused vendors integrated into platform solutions link vehicles sales and fixed operations to improve efficiencies and provide more comprehensive R.O.I. analytics. Auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies that have survived the consolidation in the retail auto industry have turned to these technology providers to leverage their limited resources.
The future for auto dealers and automotive advertising agencies clinging to old school business practices without embracing the internet, social media and technologies to maximize the efficiencies that they represent is bleak. Similarly, vendors serving the auto industry must expand their products and services beyond their initial core products to provide complimentary and integrated solutions or they will swept aside by platform solutions that address their auto dealer clients needs in a more comprehensive manner.