A Resource Portal for Automotive Dealers, Industry Vendors and Advertising Agencies

AdAgencyOnline.Net Uses Social Networking And Viral Marketing In Automotive Advertising

AdAgencyOnline.Net was developed to capitalize on the recognized Internet phenomenon of social networking and viral marketing in the auto industry. The portal is a network of automotive advertising agencies, auto industry vendors and auto dealers who turn to the site to share best practices and to solve common problems in a shrinking auto industry. Philip Zelinger, the host of AdAgencyOnline.Net, is a former auto dealer, the President of Ad Agency Online, L.L.C., an author of two books on the auto industry and a respected speaker at auto industry seminars and Dealer 20 groups.

The affiliated automotive advertising agencies, auto dealer/vendor clients of Ad Agency Online, L.L.C. and site visitors to AdAgencyOnline.Net asked Philip to share his insights on the importance of viral marketing and social media in today’s troubled auto industry. “The Internet is being used by consumers to help them in their buying decisions. Auto dealers are following them onto the World Wide Web with Internet based applications that link their virtual showrooms with real world selling opportunities. The problem is that consumers have learned that they don’t need auto dealers to get the information they need. As a result, they are turning to consumer focused social networking sites to share their experiences before, during and after the sale to determine which dealer they want to do business with. Auto dealers can follow their customers onto these sites but they must understand the dynamics that exist on these relationship based forums. I support both my auto dealer and vendor clients by helping them write and post blogs on their own blogging sites to attract customers. I also host blog talk radio shows through AdAgencyOnline.Net and post discussions on related auto industry networks that I contribute to so they can stay on top of the developing automotive advertising applications that are improving selling processes in both their real and virtual showrooms.”

Viral marketing and social media can be used in a variety of ways to promote a business but there are a number of pitfalls that need to be avoided at all costs. Viral marketing distributes a message in such a way that it will be forwarded by the recipient in a geometric progression enhanced by its valued content, unique creative, entertaining production or some quality that will motivate the initial consumer to share it with their spheres of influence. The exponential growth of this type of online distribution channel affords an extremely cost effective media to distribute the initial message to a diverse audience that may or may not be interested in the content, but even a small percentage of conversions represent a superior short term and quantifiable R.O.I. to conventional marketing media. The “buzz” created by the extended online community also develops long term branding recognition that enhances the reach and frequency of the message with less measurable results but similar value in developing “top of the mind awareness’ for future customers.

By extension, social media as it is applied to selling cars and service is a channel for distribution of both viral and targeted marketing messages through controlled blogging forums as well as expanded spheres of influence through online communities such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Naymz, YouTube, etc.. These social networking communities have unique personalities that attract different profiles of users. Twitter and Facebook, for example, are more universal and personal in nature while Naymz and Linked In are more professional and focused on business to business networking with YouTube using video to express the message. These online communities should be part of an auto dealer’s extended social media channel to attract consumers, however, more specialized networks targeted to the auto industry will also provided valuable information and resources that should be considered.

The general definition of social media and/or social networking does not directly consider its commercial application as it is primarily an online platform to build relationships and share information. On the contrary, any commercial abuse of a social media site will alienate users and create negative backlash. That said, human nature has survived from the “real world” to the “virtual world” and people still prefer to do business with friends – real or virtual. As long as the sales message is secondary to providing valued content or is placed in the context of a relationship focused community with shared interests then the ability to develop sales is both measurable and assured.

Viral marketing and social media have obvious cost advantages over conventional media – including radio, TV, print, direct mail, etc. – as well as online investments in search engine marketing, (SEM) – such as pay per click and banner advertisements – since there is no direct costs. They are similar in their R.O.I. and value to Internet based search engine optimization, (SEO), with comparable “indirect costs” in that they are labor intensive however, properly leveraged reciprocal links and “automated” content provided by RSS feeds from related online sources can be integrated to reduce the labor for both content and distribution enhancing the R.O.I. even after the cost of labor is considered.

An additional unique value of social media is the increasing importance of “relevancy” and “consumer generated content” in consumer preference in their selection of sites as a resource for information. Improvement in conversion and bounce rates, time on page and a number of other site analytics can be directly attributed to improved relevancy and consumer content – as is provided by social media when properly integrated with a website. More significantly, is the resulting impact it is having on search engines such as Google in adjusting the algorithms that establish both page rankings and even costs associated with their pay per click programs. Also, the constantly changing messages provided by user generated content on the posting site improves its SEO. The importance of relevancy has been firmly established by both consumers and the search engines insuring that its impact on Internet use will increase.

A less obvious but equally valued aspect of the use of social media to extend marketing plans is the “evolution” of the use of the Internet by consumers to be more of a “pull/push” media vs. the old world marketing logic of “push/pull.” The Internet has allowed consumers the freedom to gather information from a variety of online resources to avoid the “sales hype” and self serving messages used by advertisers in other media. The recognized preference for consumers to rely on referrals and shared personal experiences from third party sources and “friends” has been enhanced by the Internet and more specifically social media which has been shown to provide a stronger influence on consumers than both conventional and other methods of Internet based marketing efforts.

www.AdAgencyOnline.Net is an example of an auto industry facing social networking community that has earned a growing following of automotive advertising agencies, automotive advertising vendors, auto dealers and even O.E.M. representatives that rely on the site to stay in touch with developing opportunities in the auto industry. It is important to note that these portals are established as “open forums” with minimum self serving or obviously commercialized elements. Social media relies on “relationship” based communications so if the site is perceived as being self serving or commercialized it will be shunned by customers.

AdAgencyOnline.Net hosts a blog talk radio station – WAAOL, All Automotive Advertising News All The Time – that features blog talk radio shows including “Lunch With Phil Discussing Automotive Advertising”, “Lunch With Ralph Discussing Automotive Advertising” and “Automotive Advertising Experts.” These blog talk radio shows provide an added value feature of this social networking portal which has proven to be a key differentiator between AdAgencyOnline.Net and other auto industry facing social networking sites.

About AdAgencyOnline.Net

AdAgencyOnline.Net started reviewing automotive advertising vendors and new technologies after their introduction during the 2008 NADA Convention in San Francisco. In addition to providing free creative, hosting online Dealer 20+ Groups and providing links to “preferred automotive advertising vendors” the site also hosts several blog talk radio shows focused on the auto industry and cutting edge automotive advertising vendors and applications.

AdAgencyOnline.Net has a loyal audience of automotive advertising agencies, auto dealers, auto industry vendors and O.E.M. representatives that rely on the site to find and review vendors, applications and new technologies to maximize their R.O.I. in a shrinking auto industry. The site features applications used in both virtual and real world selling processes including DMS and CRM applications provided by established auto industry vendors such as ADP and BZ Results.

Ad Agency Online L.L.C has also been engaged by a number of new automotive advertising vendors not yet recognized by the mainstream automotive advertising industry that have been featured on WAAOL including Argistics – AutoTransaXion, SiSTeR Technologies – Video CarLot, EveryCarListed.Com, DealMaker.Com, CityTwist.Com, Bulldog Marketing Technologies, LeadConverter, Gumiyo, Kihon Media, CarFolks.Com,Ai Dealer, NeoSynergy and Laser Stream Video.

A growing number of respected automotive advertising experts have been interviewed on AdAgencyOnline.Net including; Clayton Stanfield from EBay Motors, Mark Boyd and Mark Dubis from CarFolks.Com, Jared Hamilton from DrivingSales.Com, Dale Pollak from vAuto, David Wassmann from NeoSynergy, Jerry Daniels from Automotive Broadcasting Network, (ABN), Terry Alling from Kihon Media, David Marod from LeadConverter, Brian Ferris and Spencer Sterling from DealMaker.Com, Mike Parsons from Laser Stream Video, Brian Hoecht from Ai Dealer, Ralph Paglia from ADP and host to the auto industry social networking community ADM, Len Critcher from ecarlist.com, Tim Zearden from AAX, Jim Ziegler, motivational speaker and consultant to the auto industry, Jeff Kershner, ecommerce director for The Mile One Automotive Group and host of the auto industry social networking forum DealerRefresh.Com , Jeff Raab from the Detroit Trading Company, (DTX), Mike DeCecco from Dealer.Com, Ken Schwartz from CityTwist, Michael R. Spadafore from R. L. Polk & Co., Kevin Schwartz and Rick Rochon from AdSymetrix, Bruce Cerbone from Argistics and most recently Scott Davis from Bulldog Marketing Technologies.

About Philip Zelinger

Philip Zelinger invested twenty five plus years in the retail auto industry as a general manager and dealer principal before shifting his focus to automotive advertising when he accepted a position as the C.O.O. of a national automotive advertising agency in 1998 before leaving to found Ad Agency Online, L.L.C. in December of 2001. Ad Agency Online L.L.C. is a national network of independent affiliated automotive advertising agencies, production partners and preferred automotive advertising vendors linked by the online communication / distribution system developed by Mr. Zelinger. As the author of two books on the auto industry, including a career training guide titled “How To Sell A Car,” Philip is a nationally recognized authority on automotive advertising.

Automotive advertising vendors, automotive advertising agencies and auto dealers that would like to be considered as a “preferred automotive advertising vendor” on AdAgencyOnline.Net and/or to hire Ad Agency Online, L.L.C. as a consultant can contact Philip Zelinger directly at pzads@bellsouth.net, call him at 888-796-2228 or visit AdAgencyOnline.Net at https://adagencyonline.net. To quote Philip Zelinger, “Help is only a click away!” ###

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