Are Car Dealerships Back To “Spray and Pray” Advertising?

Remember back in the day when every digital marketing company pointed the finger and villainized “Spray and Pray” advertising?

It was the #1 topic at every conference, webinar, and forum:

“Stop blanketing your message!”
“Stop blindly throwing darts!”
“Attribution is the answer!”
“You can’t track TV, but you can track [Insert Digital Channel Here]!”

Ever since, dealers started spending ad dollars differently, and the results followed.

In just 5 years (between 2016 and 2021), dealership internet advertising expenditures nearly doubled. (Source: NADA Data)

And it is no secret why: Targeted digital advertising simply worked.

But today, there are 2 massive challenges for automotive businesses across the nation that are once again changing how we look at advertising:

Challenge #1: The online / data privacy landscape.

Challenge #2: The ever-changing habits of today’s digital shoppers.

Let’s take a closer look.

“Privacy First” Means Results Second

Have you noticed that your lead volume has become more and more unpredictable over the last year?

Are you frustrated that your ad dollars don’t seem to be going as far as they used to?

It is not a coincidence that you’re feeling this way when “privacy-first” and “a cookieless future” are the latest digital marketing buzzwords. 

Google’s “death of the cookie”, iOS 14’s privacy lockdown, and policy changes like CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and GDPR are making it so that automotive marketers and General Managers alike are spending more valuable time than ever trying to hunt down where the leads and customers are hiding.

In fact, a 2021 survey from Hubspot and GetApp revealed that 41% of marketers believed their biggest challenge was the inability to track the right data. Additionally, 44% of marketers predicted they would need to quintuple their spending from 5% to 25% to hit the same goals in 2022 as they did in 2021.

The problem is, automotive customers aren’t all that easy to track anymore, and it’s only going to get harder.

Automotive Customers Are Unreachable

On your smartphone, I want you to run a quick drill:

Open your “Screentime” (iPhone users, go to Settings > Screen Time; Android users, go to Settings > Digital Wellbeing). How many apps have you used in the past week? How much time did you spend?

(Fun fact, we surveyed our VP of Product, CEO, and VP of Sales, and they use an average of 32 apps and spend an estimated 13 hours on their phone per week!)

The average user today has 40 apps on their phone, and spends a total of 494 minutes a day consuming information digitally, and automotive shoppers are no different. 

Car shoppers today sporadically spend time across different mediums; there are no longer 2 or 3 core places they are hanging out. 

To combat this, auto dealers and industry marketers are seemingly back to that Spray and Pray mentality:

 “You need to be everywhere. Did you post to TikTok? Don’t forget YouTube! Repost that to Instagram. Are you doing OTT?”

But is that the best route?

How can we get back to targeted advertising, when we don’t truly understand where auto shoppers are spending time, and when we’re losing signals every day?

To start, we need to really understand this automotive “Nomadic Customer.”

Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to our blog – over the next few weeks, we will be releasing everything we’ve learned about the automotive Nomadic Customer and how you can finally pin them down.

Find out everything you need to know to catch and convert the #1 most unreachable car shopper today.

Lauren Blackwell

Lauren Blackwell