Old-School Ads Have a Place

Auto On-Line Search Media is Cool, But Critical Mass Media Wins in the End. So many local auto search portals are angling for a share of dealer budgets, but do they forget that it's really the dealer's final sales results that matter? All of the talk about demographic targeting and direct marketing often ignores the fact that where the consumer lives or works is a major factor in their buying decision.

Auto On-Line Search Media is Cool, But Critical Mass Media Wins in the End. So many local auto search portals are angling for a share of dealer budgets, but do they forget that it's really the dealer's final sales results that matter?

All of the talk about demographic targeting and direct marketing often ignores the fact that where the consumer lives or works is a major factor in their buying decision.

The “Internet factor” has affected the way consumers preview and finally purchase large ticket items including cars.

It is also interesting to note that retailers are telling us that their old ideal of having the best retail store location does not mean as much as it did 10 years ago. That's because, in the mind of today's consumers, “shopping” a store is as close as the nearest laptop.

And we hear from car dealers that these days they are shipping cars to buyers not just across the county, but across the country.

We met recently with a large volume Chevrolet dealer who was disappointed that the prior month he had decided to shift his spot TV spending to self-produced half-hour sales shows.

He reasoned that since in the past his half-hour shows had proven to be so profitable, he would not need spot TV to reach the masses anymore.

That's when the trouble started.

He immediately lost his status as No.1 dealership in the region and landed in 6th place.

It seems the owner had been fleeced by the half hour show producers who told him he could reduce his dependency on critical-mass media and instead “target” only their high profit 30-minute shows each week.

You see, when you need to bring in lots of consumers, you still need to reach lots of people. No one is smart enough to know where all of the buyers are all of the time, including the folks from Internet-based media.

Critical mass marketing has, and always will, bring immediate and measurable impact.

That's why the Superbowl is still the ultimate place to launch a new idea or product. Talking to 50% of the entire U.S. population through a Superbowl ad ensures that enough buyers will be reached to generate mass exposure and the predictable level of resulting sales.

We are receiving more client requests to change their television image from a “local” business to that of a “regional player” in their category of business. They know that the Internet is bringing consumers from all points on the map, so they want to look bigger and be seen as an authority — even in niche industries.

So does the Internet's influence mean that we should all rush into search engine marketing and abandon mass media? Of course not. But we also should remember that every new media tool brings with it innovative ways to use that very tool.

Achieving positive results requires the generation of critical mass that only a hybrid use of mass media and new media can attain. Relying on Web-only media would simply not generate sales leads fast enough for us to satisfy the demands of this large practice.

As we move forward in this digital media revolution, let's not leave behind the proven “old media” weapons that made us successful auto marketers in the first place.

Adam Armbruster is a partner in retail and broadcasting consulting firm of Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co in Red Bank, NJ. He can be reached at [email protected] or 941-928-7192.

Questions or comments about this column? Send us an e-mail at [email protected].

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