By Lindsay VanHulle
To get their products in front of consumers’ eyeballs, auto dealers often look to TV. And not just traditional broadcast and cable. Auto marketers are vying for a growing number of consumers watching content on streaming services such as Hulu, including on so-called smart TVs and via connected devices such as Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick.
Known as over-the-top TV, or connected TV when referring to the devices that deliver streaming content, the medium is similar to traditional TV in that it reaches viewers earlier in the shopping process, several marketers told Automotive News. It’s also a digital video option that uses data to target consumers in market to buy with more relevant and frequent messages.
The format isn’t new. Households for years have used streaming services to complement — even replace — cable or satellite boxes. But the coronavirus pandemic accelerated consumer interest in streaming content as they spent more time at home this spring, according to media measurement and analytics company Comscore. That boosted the potential audience for ads, said Matt Copley, director of product marketing and sales enablement for PureCars, a digital advertising vendor for dealerships.
Unlike traditional advertising, which can’t be turned on or off for a driver shopping for a particular model, consumer data can help marketers be more strategic about who sees a particular ad. That can eliminate “wasteful spend” that results from casting too wide a net with a mass audience that may not be inclined to buy a vehicle.
Jordan Barrett, digital marketing director for Liberty Automotive Group in Peoria, Ariz., said Liberty has added over-the-top TV to its advertising strategy through a new partnership between dealership marketing company Digital Air Strike and e-commerce giant Amazon.
Digital Air Strike said it creates the ad content and strategy for its dealership clients and Amazon then distributes the ads to its media partners.
Especially in a competitive marketplace, Barrett said, “there are some dealers that want to take the chance to see if they can use that budget that they used to put into big cable TV buys and stretch it further with a more targeted, digital kind of navigation system for who to place those video ads in front of.”
Liberty operates a standalone Buick store and a standalone GMC store. Early results from the group’s campaign, which kicked off in October, show that unique viewers see an ad an average of 2.31 times per day and that viewers completed a video — which can’t be skipped — at least 96 percent of the time, according to Digital Air Strike.
It’s possible consumers might not watch the ads, even though video completion rates run high.
But marketing vendors say the data-driven approach also allows them to follow up with related ads by tracking unique, anonymized identifiers associated with the consumer or household.
That means advertisers can send a consumer the same video later while he or she browses websites on a smartphone.
Digital Air Strike also can retarget viewers of an ad through its Amazon connected-TV program with a companion digital display ad, said Erica Sietsma, the vendor’s COO.
“It’s a super powerful one-two punch,” Sietsma said.
When an over-the-top TV ad starts to run, it can create a demand boost for a dealership’s other marketing campaigns, from paid search to social media.
The idea here is to execute unity and consistent messaging across any piece of glass that a prospective shopper may be looking at.