We’ve said it several times before: more and more dealers are investing heavily in paid search. If you want to maintain a competitive advantage and push the envelope with your digital marketing campaigns investing in other online mediums is a necessity.

According to Borrell & Associates, a leading research provider for the local marketing industry, 2012 may be the final year of growth for paid search in the automotive vertical. In 2012, the medium with the largest year over year increase is targeted display, and it is projected surpass paid search in total spend in 2013.

Click To Enlarge - Source B&A Automotive 2012

Why you may ask? Increased competition in the paid search marketspace and an increasing shift of dealer’s ad dollars to digital mediums. Theoretically, there’s only so much paid search you can buy and as dealer’s continue to invest more and more marketing dollars online, these dollars are going to spill over into other mediums.

It’s important to point out that there are a couple items in the Borrell report that may be contradictory to other statistics we rely on – but there is a very consistent theme. Online spending is rapidly increasing and dealer’s are investing more into mediums other than paid search. The age of display advertising is on the horizon.

For years, we’ve seen the statistics that support the addition of display to paid search campaigns. According to Google, automotive advertisers who added display to their paid search campaigns saw a 26% lift in overall visits and a 21% lift in paid search traffic due the fact that they were exposed to a display ad. The fact of the matter is online display advertising drives awareness and interest in your brand.

What can you do from here?

Here’s 5 Tips To Get The Most Out of Your Display Campaigns:

  1. Pennies Make Dollars: You don’t need to completely cut out other areas of your advertising budget to add display. Our average customer spends just over $1100 per month on display advertising. Find four or five other areas to trim by $200 and you’re there. It’s very likely those types of budget cuts won’t effect the impact of other mediums.
  2. Diversify: There are lots of targeting options you have when building a display campaign. Don’t rely on one. Just like a good portfolio mixes different types of investments, a good display campaign mixes different types of customer targets.
  3. Clickable & Fresh Ads: Despite all the different targeting types, it’s still tough to know exactly what a customer wants. Make your ads broad-based (don’t focus on one model only – try a whole lineup) and give them a reason for to click (an aggressive offer, not just a brand-building ad for your store). And keep it fresh – build new ads every 30 days so that people don’t become accustomed to your ads.
  4. Learn The Metrics: Display performs differently than paid search – if you compare the metrics side by side you’ll miss the value. When measuring the success of your display campaign you should be focusing on achieving a CTR above 0.09% (yes, that’s all!) and a CPM of $2.50 to $4.00 (of course this varies by market).
  5. Give It Time: According to Shopper Sciences, the minds behind the Zero Moment of Truth, online advertising is the most influential one to three months ahead of the purchase. To realistically be able to measure the effects of a change in your online campaign it could take four or more months.