Demand More from Your Ad Agency Partners


New technologies and metrics are available to help dealers optimize their marketing mix and answer the age-old question: Who Sold It? Multi-touch, cross-device sales attribution starts by having clean customer data, comprehensive data management tool and accurate conversion/sales data.

Conversion data is critical to optimize a dealer’s marketing mix and to increase Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), yet so many dealers accept partial conversion reporting from their agency partners. Complicating true ROI measurement, dealers have multiple companies executing their digital strategy with marketing results kept it separate data silos.

When you consider a new Google AdWords, Facebook, or Email Marketing partner, demand that they show conversions, by campaign, in these four conversion channels.

  1. Website Lead forms
  2. Website Chat
  3. Website SMS
  4. Website DNI (Calls conversions by department are a plus)

There is a fifth conversion channel: Google Click-to-Call conversions. These are from a phone number in an ad (SERP) and are only available in an Adwords SEM campaign. The bonus is when the agency partner (or consultant) can tie the conversion to a sale!

Documents Conversion in GA for Sales Attribution Insights

In the past, obtaining monthly reports for paid advertising campaigns showing conversions across all five channels was difficult. Today, dealers will be pleased to know that PCG has created standards for Google Analytics events that allow website platforms, ad agencies, third party call tracking, chat, and text messages companies to send conversions into GA by campaign source.

Dealers using VistaDash, an automotive marketing dashboard, can see conversions by channel and by campaign. Any marketing agency can leverage the PCG event dictionary to create complete conversion reporting for their clients. Change will only occur when dealers ask their marketing partners to raise the bar on marketing reporting standards.

If your AdWords or Facebook agency does not provide your dealership with campaign based conversions across these five channels, demand upgraded reporting. Tell them to pull in the PCG events that track conversions. Dealers will never have accurate multi-touch attribution reports if all conversions are not associated with campaign costs.

Dealers need to optimize their marketing mix and getting these five conversion channels documented, per campaign, is a critical starting point.

The good news is that many companies are supporting these new GA standards and more will be announced in the coming months. Some of the largest companies in automotive marketing automation will be fully compliant by the end of this year. Then our industry can develop more transparent reporting and meaningful sales attribution models.

Reframe the Conversation

If agency partners fail to show phone call, lead form, chat, or text conversions for each paid advertising campaign, what could they be hiding? Normally, it is poor performance. I would also add that dealers should have conversion reporting by landing page, to learn which starting pages create the highest conversions.

Every advertising channel should report into a transparent and independent data warehouse like Google Analytics (GA). Documenting campaign engagement events and conversion data will give dealers more accurate tools to assess their marketing investments and to create an optimized marketing mix.

GA is not the endpoint for our industry. It is just the starting point. However, the fact remains that less than 10 percent of auto dealers in the US have all four conversion channels recorded in GA. Dealers are not looking at Assisted Conversion reports in GA, and if they do, they are inaccurate due to partial conversion data! In the past, there were barriers to accurate reporting but now the barriers are fading away.

Marketing Data: Strategic Asset

It’s time for dealers to see their marketing data as a strategic asset.

Once GA is cleaned up, dealers can partner with advanced technology companies that can glue together the customer journey and all the touch points that occur off the dealership’s website. Take some time to learn about device graphs and anonymous online identities. Dealers who move from last-click attribution models to multi-touch attribution (across all devices) will be the first to gain a competitive edge.

Cross-device, multi-touch tracking will be front-and-center at the Automotive Analytics & Attribution Summit (AAAS) in Boca Raton, November 8th and 9th. Dealers, vendors, and marketing leaders will face off to create better accountability for our industry. CBT News will be covering the event and will be posting clips from the main stage general sessions. Details can be found at:

The companies that are in the strongest place to deliver value to dealers in regard to sales attribution might surprise you. Handling vast amounts of consumer engagement data, creating algorithms to analyze and weight engagement events, and connecting anonymous shopping activity to a sale requires significant capital investments. Smaller agencies will likely fold or be acquired as marketing management fees no longer justify large investments in technology and human resources.

Companies that are in the strongest position to leverage cross-device, multi-touch attribution data in the automotive industry include CDK Global, Cox Automotive, Urban Science, and Epsilon. I would encourage all readers to follow the upcoming product releases and innovations regarding online attribution and modeling sales outcomes.

This month I am pleased to announce the release of a new book focusing on sales attribution called “Who Sold It?” Readers who want to learn more about improving their marketing outcomes and optimizing their marketing budget can purchase a copy at The electronic version of the book can be purchased at popular online retailers.