Attribution in the Automotive Dealership Industry


There’s no question about the highly competitive nature of the automotive industry. Dealerships need to on top of every aspect of their business in order to secure the sale when the buyers are in the market. This can make it difficult to ensure that they constantly have a steady stream of customers. Before automotive dealerships could depend on attribution to measure their sales, they had to rely on platforms such as Google Analytics, which only showed the dealerships consumer engagement, not sales.

First and foremost, attribution is the ability to track your marketing investments through the path to purchase from driving the traffic till the closed deal. It’s an essential tool for automotive dealerships for understanding which elements within their marketing mix were the most effective at generating sales. Over 90% of automotive consumers began their vehicle search online.

Before the 2000s, automotive dealerships couldn’t really track their car sales back to any specific form of media, whether that be print, mail or TV. With the Internet boom in the 2000s, dealerships really began to see the potential of tracking their attribution. However, without the proper tools and techniques, they couldn’t harness its potential until recent times.

Automotive dealerships have never been able to use print and digital media as well as they can nowadays. Consumers who are interested in purchasing a vehicle can easily use print or digital media to check out the latest deals and offerings. However, tracking those two media channels requires different techniques. With print media, automotive dealerships can easily track it to the household level. Digital media, on the other hand, cannot be tracked by such means. Subsequently, if you can’t track and determine which media is the best option for you, it can be quite difficult for you to pick which one to pour your money into.

The good news is that with the latest technologies that are available to us in terms of digital media, automotive dealerships can now track digital media to the household level. In order to target the effectiveness of digital media to a household level, it’s imperative to be able to affiliate them with a physical address. Automotive dealerships can obtain a link to a physical address through a mobile ID and an email address.

Through targeting their digital media access, automotive dealerships can gather a database of physical addresses of consumers that received an impression through the media. The dealerships can then match the media impression database with their database of buyers that purchased a car during their promotion period.

Historically, there have been four main attribution models, those being First Click Attribution, Last Click Attribution, Time Decay, and Multi Touch Attribution.

  • First Click Attribution deals mostly with digital media. It gives credit to the first trackable touch point that consumers encounter.
  • Last Click Attribution is the simplest and easiest method of attribution. A consumer simply converts and buys.
  • Time Day Attribution takes into account the first click and last click. It also factors in the time in between the sale and conversion.
  • Multi Touch Attribution is able to track and measure several factors that contribute to a consumer’s purchasing journey. It even allows the ability to connect dots between online and offline touchpoints.

If dealerships are running media campaigns on both media, digital and print, they can see which platform was more successful at closing sales. They can also see whether it was more effective for them to run campaigns through print and digital media channels or if it would be beneficial for them to just run their campaigns on one media. Dealerships should routinely undergo an analysis on which media were the most effective at bringing in sales, such as ROI per channel.

Studies have shown that consumers who were marketed at through various media channels were more likely to purchase an item compared to those consumers that were marketed to on a single media channel. This is referred to as Omni-channel marketing. Omni-channel consumers are shown to have a 30% higher lifetime value than a single channel consumer.

In addition to tracking consumers who made a purchase at the dealerships, it’s important for auto dealers to analyze those consumers that considered making a purchase. These statistics can prove to be invaluable to dealerships as it causes them to consider questions regarding those consumers. Consumers that were touched by the media who entered the dealership’s showroom, or visited their car lot, but didn’t make a purchase can be vital for the dealerships. These figures can be tracked by implementing physical beacons or even through mobile listening.

Digital and print media are generally less expensive than radio and television media. Though this doesn’t mean that radio and television advertising is not as effective, it does mean that many dealerships will choose to use digital and print media more often because of the higher ROI. No matter which media channels dealerships choose to advertise, attribution is becoming more and more multi-channel. Mobile advertising has become increasingly popular due to the big role that it plays in influencing consumers. It’s also been found that consumers nowadays expect and respond better with customized communications that contain information that is uniquely beneficial to them.

Through this all, it’s still important to continue with the methods that give you the highest sales, even if they are not popular by market standards. Dealerships can add several tools to the marketing mix for better measurements of the efficiency and impact of your marketing investments. Automotive dealerships should strive to look for transparent data tracking solutions so that they can have a tangible outcome.

On average, Americans change car roughly every four years. Though this is simply an assumption, it’s a good guide for dealerships to use. The value of attribution increases with the higher chances of a repeat purchase. Though the sales end in the dealership’s showroom, they are likely to start online. As technology advances, attribution models are also continually advancing and becoming more workable. On top of the advancing tools, consumers are becoming influenced by a number of sources. They are reading reviews of car manufacturers, models, and dealerships, searching various pricings, and bouncing from site to site to find the best deals.

It’s now more important than ever for dealerships to be on top of their marketing methods and techniques so that they are able to get the most number of consumers as possible. Though finding attribution models that work best for your dealership is becoming more complex, it’s also become vital for the success of the dealerships. Through proper and precise measurements, dealerships can now get the highest ROI through an effective marketing mix.