On-Target Ad Strategies for Car Dealerships. 

We have been exploring how to develop a digital marketing strategy. Now it’s time to talk through targeted display ads, a.k.a. digital display ads.  

We’ll briefly define these ads, then hit on ways you can segment your market to make sure they hit the right target. 

What are targeted display ads? 

A targeted display ad is a digital advertisement sent to a specific consumer or group of consumers. This might be a banner ad featured on a news website, a carousel ad sent to a “lookalike” audience on Facebook, or a targeted display ad sent to a mobile phone in a specific geographic area. You might know these ads as targeted display ads or digital display ads. 

What are the benefits of targeted display ads? 

Everybody has seen a car ad in a magazine or newspaper. Digital display ads serve a similar purpose in the sense that they tell a brief story about a car or dealership. What makes digital display ads somewhat different is that they have a digital format, which gives them a wider range of technical options, and they can be delivered to more specified audiences than most traditional ad can. 

Pew Research estimates that 90% of Americans are online, and that 81% of Americans own a smartphone. Like newspaper, magazine, and TV ads before them, targeted display ads capitalize on an important form of communication and do it in the way that best fits the medium. 

Tips and best practices for targeted display ads. 

For advertising, the internet is kind of a double-edge sword. On the one hand it makes it easy for users to find information of all sorts; on the other hand it has resulted in fewer common sources of information. Take television, for instance. At one time everybody watched the same handful of TV shows, and advertisers had a somewhat captive audience. Cable TV came along to expand the number of options, which meant that advertisers had to target specific programs and time slots more carefully. Streaming gives us content-rich channels like Netflix that don’t run ads at all, which has many advertisers pursuing alternatives to traditional TV commercials. 

For digital display advertising to work to its full potential, you need a way to break down consumers into segments. Elsewhere we talk about five basic ways to break down a market: demographic, geographic, technographic, psychographic, and behavioral. These divisions are useful for targeted display ads as well. Ad targeting can increase the effectiveness of your ads, plus make your dealership digital ad spend more efficient. So targeted display advertising benefits from insights on your audience. 

With demographic segmentation, we’re talking about age, gender, income, ethnicity, and other demographic groupings. Not to toot our own horn but you may know that LOCALiQ is part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, which includes 109 local and national papers. Something our research has told us is that our readers are “educated, affluent, and typically earn more than $75 thousand dollars a year.” If your dealership is trying to tap into a market like this, you could run display ads on the digital site of your local USA TODAY NETWORK paper.  

Similarly, you could find ways to target women, men, Spanish speakers, low-income car buyers, and so on by showing up in the places they go online; as well as by using consumer insights to plan out the ad content. Just yesterday, the author watched a YouTube video for a local Porsche dealership and noticed that the video included a shot of champagne being poured into a glass. This is very appropriate content for a Porsche ad, but it might intimidate other segments of consumers. Data is how you know what imagery, language, and messaging does the best job connecting with your target audience. 

Geographic segmentation has to do with factors like city limits, where people live, and the distance from point A to point B. The most straightforward way to incorporate geographic segmentation into a targeted display ad campaign is to serve your ad to consumers within key zip codes via one (or multiple) online news platforms, such as USA TODAY NETWORK sites.  

You can also do something called geofencing. Let’s say that your lot is located in an “auto row,” or part of town where several dealerships and related businesses are clustered together. You might want to set up a geofence around the general area and send ads to consumers as they eat in adjacent fast-food restaurants or visit nearby body shops. You could also set up geofences around lots in other parts of town, nudging consumers to come down to where the real action is. 

Technographic segmentation refers to the ways the market segment uses technology. This could mean investing in Instagram ads to target younger users. It can also mean redirecting part of your TV commercial budget into running a video display ad through a connected TV device like a Roku or Kindle Fire. 

Psychographic segmentation refers to psychological characteristics, conscious and unconscious beliefs, motivations, and related factors.  

Claritas PRIZM uses geographic, demographic, and consumer behavior to break consumers down into specific groupings. For instance, PRIZM has a market grouping called Traditional Times. It defines this market as follows: 

Traditional Times is the kind of lifestyle where small-town couples nearing or entering retirement are beginning to enjoy their first empty-nest years. Typically age 65 and older, these upper midscale Americans pursue an active lifestyle. They belong to country clubs and civic clubs and spend their vacation time traveling. 

If a dealership tends to draw a lot of customers from this group, it could create a digital display ad campaign on Facebook that connects with “lookalike” audiences, or audiences that share common features.  

Behavioral segmentation looks at factors like consumption habits, basic behaviors, and so on. This one has a lot of overlap with the other segmentation methods. Let’s say that the psychometric group that loves the local team often visits sports bars and shows up at the stadium on game day. The dealership could set up a geofence around these places and send out a digital display ad in team colors. What’s makes this segmentation more behavioral than psychometric or geographic is that delivery of the ad is based on the specific behavior – going someplace to watch a game at a specific time of day – versus being a sports fan or hanging out in sports bars in general. 

Another example would be this. Let’s say that your dealership operates in a city with bad traffic, long commute times, and limited public transportation options.  You could conclude that “sitting in traffic” is a common market behavior. From there, you could design an ad campaign that directly hits on the topic (“Our new SUV the most comfortable ride in town”); or capitalizes on secondary behaviors by seeking out Facebook users who have liked to-go coffee chains and morning radio shows. 

No one segmentation method is better than another. Choosing a specific strategy depends on your needs, your goals, and your local market. 

Targeted display ads done right. 

As part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE has a massive audience, a strong network of affiliate sites, and insights based on/powered by 125 million consumers on our network each month. Our news platform digital display ads have a 30% higher in-view rate than the industry average; and we have our own Facebook and Instagram ad solution. We have local market expertise and smart optimization tech at our disposal, and are standing by to get you started. 


Contact us to request a free Dealer Scorecard analysis for your dealership or Auto Group. 


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