Selling online video ads to car dealers

in Blog, Connect, This article was originally published by Julian Gude on The Remarkable Blog from

Short on time? Here's the bottom line. Short on time? Here’s the Bottom Line!

Please note that this article was written prior to Local Na8ion’s re-launch and as such the content may not be relevant for today’s audience of local marketers.

This post was written for my friend, D.C.

D.C., I’m sure you’ll come up with 20 better ways to tell car dealers about how rich media advertising, and specifically online video, is the single most effective vehicle to reach their online prospects. I’ll try to answer your questions here about good ways to relate online video to a car dealer’s world, while also giving you the high level advice on pricing you asked for.

Targeting and creative Car dealers love TV ads – more importantly, they’re effective at reaching their customers. This is a great segue into online video ads. If you’ve got nothing else to work with then grab the dealer’s 15 second TV spots and use ’em (don’t use 30’s – they’re too long for a medium where people can just click a ‘close’ button). Ideally, it’s better to craft something specifically for an online audience and content area, but that can be hard at the get go. Keep your advertiser’s campaign goals firmly in mind when choosing which of their TV spots to use, or when figuring out what to create if you’re starting from scratch. Does the auto dealer’s TV creative have a direct response message; or, are they branding vehicles? Probably direct response. This is where targeting comes in. Put the right message in front of the right audience. I’d go with a direct response creative on highly relevant car shopping content pages and more branding focused ads in general, or non-targeted placements. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, use your judgment.

Sales Tips – which ‘up’ is easier to close

Video is about engaging all of a person’s senses – just like good car sales.

Ask the dealer:

‘if you want your sales person to close a sale today, would you rather have a web based lead, a phone up, or a showroom up?’

The Dealer will acknowledge the obvious superiority of the showroom up. Why? For starters, only one of these ‘ups’ gives their sales staff an actual chance to get their client on a test drive, where the odds of them buying the vehicle go up exponentially. Only one of these ‘ups’ can put the keys in a buyer’s hand as the auto dealer waves goodbye to them as they drive off the lot.

Why is that?

During an in-person sales call you’re engaging all of the customers senses as you interact with them. The more the auto sales person can appeal to the buyer’s emotions, the better the chance for a sale. As you well know, this is universal to all sales, or anytime you want someone to accept your ideas or viewpoint. In person, you can listen to a client, react, answer questions, gesture or show them the car, have them touch and smell the leather, and hear the thunk of the doors. Their prospect is immersed in a rich experience. Good online video advertising leverages many of these same modalities . Video is capable of creating a highly emotional response to your message, unlike one or two dimensional ads like radio spots, newspaper ads, or traditional online banner ads. Online video, like TV, has the ability to use sight, sound, color, and imagery to engage and connect people with your advertiser’s message.

Those are the differentiators for video and rich media advertising. Here are some of the keywords to use when relating these points :

  • Immersion / immersive
  • Interaction
  • Engagement
  • Emotion / emotive
  • Exciting
  • High Impact
  • Clutter-busting
  • Connection

How’s it sound? Maybe something like these sound bites.

“what test drives are to closing sales, video ads are to getting foot traffic in the showroom”


“the difference between a regular online ad and a online video ad – is like the difference between a showroom up and a telephone up – they’re both good, but only the video ad gives you the chance to take your clients on a virtual test drive.”


regular online ads can get as lost on a web site as a white Chevy Impala in a rental car lot. Online video ads are like the rental car bus that drops you off at the door of your rental car – there’s no way you’ll get lost.” (D.C., obviously you won’t want to use the Chevy example in a GM dealership! Have a generic, low-end model in mind from a competitor before you walk in the door).


“what communicates the value of your dealership and model line up more – a two inch ad headline screaming your sale price of the week or a video ad showing a smiling driver passing someone with a gas guzzler filling up at the gas station as they whiz by in the full knowledge that they’ve saved time, money, and are smarter for it?”


“online video ads are to your marketing results, what showroom ups are to your sales force – interactive, compelling and highly effective


“online video ads are priced higher because they’re the top seller, the standout in your lineup, and like your dealer allotment, there’s only so many to go around.”

Hard Facts to back up your sales approach
In numerous independent tests, online rich media ads have been shown to perform far more effectively than their traditional online counterparts – aka, the banner (in all their shapes and incarnations). This is true for both direct response metrics, like click-thrus, purchases, and sign-ups, as well as major branding metrics like view-thrus (see my training materials) and things like message association, (Nike is associated in consumer minds with “Just do it”). See my rich media sales collateral I sent you for specific numbers.

I can’t tell you what specific rate to charge, since that’s a function of your publisher’s reach, audience, targeting, and other products. I can tell you that rich media ads are top shelf and online video is the very top most shelf. It’s priced higher because it works better and there’s always a limited inventory (scarcity – only so much to go around).

Does this help?
What are your thoughts or questions?

This this whole piece has been 2-D, I thought I’d close by letting some video do the engaging.

tags: “rich media”, “rich media advertising”, “online video ads”, “video ads”, “selling online ads to auto dealers”, “auto marketing”, “local online advertising”, “local advertising”, “local online advertising”

3 Responses to "Selling online video ads to car dealers"
  1. Jim Durbin says:

    Absolutely brilliant posting, Julian. I’m a big believer that car dealers are the best way to drive local interactive marketing, because they have the most to gain and the most to lose.

    All that money spent on newspaper ads, and twice as many people are checking out their website.

    The best thing about local dealership marketing is if dealership in an area buys from you, all the rest will to.

  2. Julian says:

    Hi Jim, Thanks for your comment. They’re definitely a fraternity aren’t they! I find auto dealers to be pretty savvy marketers most of the time – if a bit afraid to step away from their general marketing formula. The biggest challenge I think auto media reps have with online video is getting the dealer to invest in online only creative – rather than just re-purposing their television creative.

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