Data, A Dealership & Programmatic Display Walk Into An Online Bar… by Robin Dienel


See original article via CBC Automotive Marketing

Data—what is it and how can we use it? The simple answer is, it’s everything and we can use it virtually any time. Too broad? Let us break it down for you.

The wonderful Ms. Merriam Webster defines data as, “factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation.” In the digital marketing world, our data is the location you share when posting to Instagram, the content you search for on Google, the company Page you follow on Facebook, the clothing store you use your credit card at (you get the idea!). Data is collected every day, on almost every platform, in every medium, whether you realize it or not.

Digital advertisers use a combination of this “factual information” data to “calculate” target audiences for different ad campaigns. When used correctly (and responsibly), data can be used to hyper-target a dealership’s digital advertising dollars on an almost individually customized basis to in-market vehicle intenders for very little investment.

The best example of how hyper-targeted data is used today in digital advertising is Programmatic Display. What’s that, you ask? It’s the automated serving of digital ads in real time to in-market customers when they are most likely to engage with the advertisement and dealership. Advertisers can now follow the consumer’s journey (both online and offline) using specific metrics to pinpoint the most opportune route and time possible to serve low-funnel, about-to-buy, advertisements to the intended audience.

For example, if someone is searching for a Jeep Cherokee on J.D. Power and is located in your general area, an ad for your dealership listing Cherokees you have in stock will be served up on that web page. Here is a real programmatic display ad example from a dealership CBC Automotive Marketing works with, Lee Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Wilson, North Carolina:


Every important metric of the consumer’s journey is then tracked using a Pixel placed on the dealership website, allowing advertisers to know the exact number of people who viewed an ad, interacted with it through a click, and/or turned into a concrete lead.

Ah…leads…the magic word for dealerships! How do we quantify a lead digitally, you ask? At CBC, we use machine learning technology processed by IBM’s Watson computer to track and evaluate over 20 post-click user signals that strongly correlate with dealership sales. A few of these metrics include important user actions like total VDP views, chats submitted, payment calculations, media gallery interactions, and more.

As the consumer is tracked post-ad click using these metrics, audiences are then evaluated and optimized to achieve that quality audience that all advertisers want… the highest click through rate for the lowest cost per click.

How To Deal With The Ch-Ch-Ch-CHANGES To Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm by Robin Dienel

See original article via CBC Automotive Marketing

Change. It’s inevitable!

This time, it comes by way of Facebook. In January of this year, Mark Zuckerburg announced Facebook would be altering its News Feed algorithm to prioritize “meaningful interactions” between people. Think less public content from businesses, brands, and the media, and more Posts from your best friend about her new St. Bernard puppy, Lucy, eating her favorite pair of heels last night.

This change is a concentrated effort from Facebook to combat fake news and internet trolls that have plagued the social network’s Feeds for the past few years. But what does this mean for your dealership’s organic presence on Facebook?

Ultimately, Facebook Page Posts will not get the same amount of air-time on the News Feed as they once did. Instead, Facebook will be favoring content they believe people will want to engage with by prioritizing geographically popular Posts from friends, family, and businesses they follow, while filtering out “engagement bait” type content that goads people into commenting on Posts.

“Engagement Bait” content can be anything from Posts that include phrases like, “Comment if you like baby turtles…” or “Like us if you like chocolate.” Obviously, everyone thinks baby turtles are cute and enjoys eating chocolate, so this type of “engagement bait” will be monitored closely by Facebook’s algorithm and Posts containing it will be downgraded to the bottom, if not removed, from the News Feed.

Overall, this change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does mean, as a dealership, you’re going to have work harder to create genuine interactions with your followers on Facebook. But it also means those followers who do engage with your Facebook Posts will become more important for your bottom line. According to CBC Automotive Marketing’s Research Director, Faith Logan, this type of “meaningful interaction” can help build rapport with your customer base and ultimately turn your followers into “Attitudinally-Loyal” brand advocates for your dealership. For more insight into this concept, read Part 1 and Part 2 of Faith’s research on how to cultivate these kinds of relationships with your customers.

In the meantime, here are a few tips from the CBC Digital Team on how to help your dealership combat this Facebook News Feed algorithm change.

Think Local

Becoming involved in your community on Facebook–whether it’s through tagging nearby businesses in a Post, joining a local Facebook Group, responding to Facebook Reviews (both positive and negative!), or other engaging content–boosts your Page’s relevance amongst your followers and promotes reactions, comments, and shares. Facebook likes this kind of back-and-forth engagement. They want brands to think outside of the marketing-box and stop posting only what great deals you have this month or baiting followers into commenting or sharing a post. This change in thinking will help generate genuine engagement on Posts and push them to the top of the News Feed.

Quality, Not Quantity!

The days of posting to your Facebook Page ten times in one hour are long gone. Scheduling quality content, like a Happy Customer photo, a Photo Album of your employees working at a local charity event, or even starting a Facebook Live video, will be more beneficial for generating local engagement amongst your followers than blanket posting to your Page’s Feed about monthly deals. We recommend finding what makes your dealership stand out from the rest. Whether that’s your customers, your community involvement, your employees, your dealership’s building, etc., and highlighting those differences in a fun and creative way through different kinds of Facebook Posts.

Videos Are The Future

A few years ago, trying to load a video on a mobile device would take at least five minutes, if not more, of buffering time. But today, video load times are almost non-existent. According to Sprout Social, Facebook now gets over 8 billion average daily video views and 100 million hours of video watched every day. That’s A LOT of videos. Of those video views, people are five times more likely to watch them on a smartphone than on a desktop. Now’s the time for your dealership to take advantage of the huge percentage of people who are watching and engaging with videos on Facebook.

As a dealership on Facebook, we recommend ensuring your TV Spots are adaptable to social by including captions and keeping them under 30 seconds in length. If you don’t have your own TV Spots, create a quick video yourself using programs like Adobe Spark, or custom gifs on Giphy’s Gif Maker. Go the extra mile by starting your own Facebook Live videos, which Sprout Social notes are watched three times longer during the actual stream than on replay. Live video examples we’ve seen perform well have included showing what vehicles are newly in stock, introducing an employee of the month, announcing a local raffle winner, or doing a walkaround of a new vehicle. These types of videos are rich in content and are proven ways to generate genuine engagement with your followers.

Embrace Your Facebook Advertising Dollars

If you’ve relied only on your organic Posts for visibility on Facebook until now, then you may need to rethink your strategy. Although your organic content will be put through the News Feed algorithm ringer, your paid Facebook Ads won’t experience the same scrutiny. There will be no changes to your paid ad’s ranking on Facebook. The only difference now is that if you are not generating engaging content organically on your Facebook Page while also not running Facebook Ads, then you more than likely will not be reaching any of your potential customers on Facebook.

With Facebook Ads, you can create a custom targeted audience by focusing in on your market intenders, identifying your dealership’s interest groups, and lassoing in geographically specific locations to ensure your advertising dollars reach the right person in the right place at the right time to generate a low funnel lead.

Change can be scary. But understanding that change and rolling with it proactively is what will put your dealership above the fold, even with this News Feed algorithm change!

Tech Overload by Robin Dienel

Accessing the news digitally has never been so easy, and so difficult.

The news is a wide-reaching, all-encompassing creature. It can lay upon a bedside table, pop up in the upper-right corner of a computer screen, project from a family room wall, or even materialize embedded on a lens in a pair of glasses. Due to an abundance of different devices and browsers clogging the digital world, developers are debating on how to exactly design the news for audiences today.

Designing Responsively

In the ageless rivalry of old vs. new, the battle between adaptive (old) or responsive (new) web design takes center stage.

Adaptive design uses multiple, individually designed sites specific to the browser and device the page is opened on, while responsive design adjusts a singular website’s size to the device it’s opened on.

Before 2011, developers were compressing websites from desktop to mobile versions, whereas now they are expanding websites from mobile to desktop, says Yuri Victor, senior user experience director at Vox Media, in an interview.

VOX, the newest editorial site founded by former Wonkblog editor at The Washington Post Ezra Klein, covers politics and news for Vox Media. It opened for online viewership on April 6, 2014, with a completely responsive design.

Spot responsive design:

  1. Open VOX in a desktop browser
  2. Minimize the window to be the width of an iPhone
  3. Watch the different boxes move vertically into one column
  4. Open on a smartphone
  5. Notice it looks the same as the minimized version on the desktop
  6. That’s responsive design

“For news organizations, I don’t see the benefit in adaptive design,” said Victor, who works mostly with VOX's website. His latest work was designing a “Create Your Own Hyperviolent John Oliver Headline” generator for the website. )Yes, that’s a real thing.)

Victor went on to say it’s much easier to make a new site, like VOX, responsive, than it is to take a current site and convert it to a responsive design.

For example, the Washingtonian magazine's website uses an adaptive design. Melanie Bender, their senior director of digital products and adjunct professor at American University, says in an interview they use Google Analytics to determine which platform their viewers are accessing their website on in order to decide what to design for.

“We’re looking at data for how many of our users are using a many are using a tablet or mobile device?” she says.  Once a product has less than half percent of their user base, Bender says they stop designing for that device since it takes time to individually develop and test each platform design.

SPOT adaptive design:

  1. Open in a window on the desktop
  2. Minimize the window to be the width of an iPhone
  3. Notice the site is cut off after a certain point while you’re minimizing it
  4. Now open on a smartphone
  5. Notice the site resized to fit within the width of the smartphone, but not the minimized browser on the desktop
  6. That’s adaptive design

Other news sites, like The Washington Post, have tackled this mobile internet boom by converting their articles to responsive design while leaving their homepage as is. This, in part, is a response to the growing number of people accessing articles through social media applications on their mobile devices.

A February 2014 study by The Nielson Company measured that U.S. adults spend an average of 34 hours per month accessing the internet on mobile devices. In addition, 86% of their smartphone internet time is captured by apps, like Twitter and Facebook.

“If you’ve targeted like an iPhone screen [with an adaptive design], or that size screen, and then somebody opens it in Facebook or Tweetbox, that size is going to change because they [Facebook and Tweetbox] automatically add padding and borders and headers and footers and then all of a sudden all this time you spent making something specific for a certain size no longer works at that size,” says Victor. “With responsive, it doesn’t care. The equation runs in the background, does what it needs, and everything should look fine.”

But what does this mean for testing these different designs?

Test! Test! Test?

In the “golden age” of web design testing, developers only had to test their designs on the five major browsers: Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

Today, a comprehensive test involves over 34 browsers and countless device combinations. The cost of owning all these devices is enormous, and the time it takes to test on these products is endless. But, there are alternatives.

DC Device Lab opened in northwest Washington, D.C., in 2013 and is currently the biggest open device lab on the east coast.

Mariesa Dale, founder of D.C. Device Lab and adjunct professor at George Mason University, was in the process of finishing a website project for Marriott in 2012 when she went searching for a few different devices to test the new site on.  She was advised by fellow D.C. developers to travel "way out" (about 38 miles south) to Sterling, Virginia, to the AOL Fishbowl Lab to pick up a box of devices.

“I thought, this [D.C.] is such a vibrant tech community, I can’t be the only developer who wants one of these,” says Dale in an interview.

She then took two months off work to build the lab in a small corner of Canvas, a co-working community she currently works out of in northwest D.C., with funds she received from the city, as well as monetary sponsorships and donated devices from local businesses. The lab now contains over 30 donated devices from Samsung and Microsoft that developers can use to test their designs on for a rental cost of $5 per hour.

But the news doesn't sleep!

Although this is a very cost-efficient way for developers at non-profits and start-ups to test their designs, the pace of the lab, which is only open during work hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., does not work well within the 24-hour news cycle. When deadlines are pressing, designs need to be tested. Quickly.

To do that, many news sites use virtual emulators, like BrowserStack. These are online programs developers can use to test their sites aesthetically at any moment of the day, which Bender says is more realistic for news sites.

When asked if news organizations would use something like D.C. Device Lab, Bender says, “I know the nature of the work and the late hours and insanity of finishing projects, so I think [we won't] because internet based emulators and services provide instantaneous feedback.”

Both web-testing strategies have their drawbacks for news sites. Virtual emulators inhibit developers from testing the tactile functions of their sites, like link buttons on touch screen phones, while device labs present the obstacle of time to a fast-paced news cycle.

“I think we’re 75% of the way there,” says Dale. “We need to solve the problem of, you know, having a physical lab but maybe in your own virtual space, so you don’t actually have to travel somewhere to get to it.”

Samsung is doing something similar to what Dale suggests. They’ve started a remote testing lab in San Francisco where developers can hook into real devices virtually through a browser, like a virtual emulator, which Dale considers “some piece of the puzzle” to the open device lab movement.