Courtney Evans

May 03, 2019

One of the biggest challenges for dealers today is knowing which marketing channels deliver the best reach, frequency and ROI. For marketers everywhere, it can be difficult to reach an intended audience, and when they do, many times the audience isn’t paying attention.

Take television, for example. Many dealerships still create and air commercials on TV and cable for brand awareness. But take a look at these stats:

  • 31% of people aged 18-49 are light TV viewers
  • 18% of US population have never signed up for cable
  • Only 45% of TV ads are watched

As expensive as TV ads are, there’s a large segment of your intended audience that either aren’t watching at all, or are simply tuning out commercials. Consider that most people, especially the younger generations, watch TV with smartphones or tablets in their hands. When commercials come on, it’s easy to hit the mute button and scroll through emails, check social media or watch a video on YouTube.

Increasingly, YouTube is a favorite alternative to television, with more than 5 billion video views daily. Additionally, the average length of visit to YouTube is 40 minutes. Not only do people love the entertainment value of YouTube, but they rely on it for educational and research purposes; including researching new and used vehicle options.

YouTube clearly has an influence on auto shoppers:

  • 75% of auto shoppers say that online video has influenced their shopping habits
  • 60% of auto shoppers who used video during research visited a dealership website
  • 40% of auto shoppers who use online video for research said it helped them discover a vehicle they weren’t aware of or previously considering

But the best thing about YouTube for auto marketers is its targeting capabilities. On YouTube, there are four ways to target an audience:

1) Demographic/Geographic. YouTube provides a multitude of demographic information such as age, gender, income and location. It also factors in signals from Google’s search and maps properties to locate auto intenders near your location.

2) Interests, behavior and life events. We all know that major life milestones often precede new vehicle purchases. YouTube makes it easy to target newlyweds, new parents, parents of high school and college aged kids, college graduates and people who have recently moved. You can also target by specific interests; e.g. automotive or brand names.

3) Consumer patterns and shopping behavior. How well do you know your most valuable customers? Many of them shop at certain department stores, frequent nice restaurants and attend local sporting events. Knowing the behavior of your most valuable customers allows you to create lookalike audiences and target similar prospects on YouTube and other Google properties.

Additionally, you can find consumers who have their vehicles serviced and purchase tires at independent repair facilities, and create ad campaigns designed to drive them into your service department.

4) Video content that your audience is watching. This one’s a no brainer. If a consumer in your PMA is watching a manufacturer test drive or walkaround video, your dealership name should be the first thing they see. Again, YouTube can tap into Google’s search properties so it’s easy to target in-market auto shoppers, and also consumers who are looking for service.

In addition to its incredible targeting capabilities, as an advertising platform YouTube allows for greater budget and scheduling control. Perhaps its greatest advantage is that you only have to pay for video views and interactions. This means there’s a huge opportunity to raise your brand awareness even when you don’t have to pay for video views.

You’ve probably seen skippable pre-roll ads on YouTube videos. Whenever you want to watch a video, you have to sit through five seconds of a pre-roll commercial before you’re allowed to click on “Skip Ad.”

This five seconds is where the greatest opportunity lies. If you create a commercial that displays your dealership name and can grab the viewers’ attention in the first five seconds, even if the consumer clicks on “Skip Ad” you are raising your brand awareness and increasing the reach and frequency of your message—for free!

Hopefully, your message and accompanying images are compelling enough to appeal to auto intenders, and they won’t skip your ad. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.

The ROI of skippable pre-roll ads varies, but a recent national Lexus campaign delivered the following results:

  • 13:1 ROI for every dollar spent
  • 12% YOY total RO increase
  • 19% YOY total revenue increase

Videos are a cost-effective way to increase your dealership’s brand awareness and capture the attention of consumers, where their attention is focused most—increasingly, that attention is on YouTube.