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BLiNQ Offers Local Car Dealerships A Facebook ‘Lift’

G/O Digital’s social media company has unveiled a targeting tool focused on auto-intenders.

BLiNQ's Raj Choudhury
BLiNQ’s Raj Choudhury

For the past several years, local automotive dealers have tended to tilt their digital ad spending towards more direct response efforts instead of emphasizing traditional branding efforts around the newest car models, according to reports from eMarketer and other industry analysts.

As local car dealers put 60 percent of their digital ad spending into direct marketing, G/O Digital’s social media company, BLiNQ Media, is introducing its AutoLIFT program, which promises to speed the process of getting real-time, locally-targeted incentives to interested car shoppers on Facebook. Using BLiNQ’s position as one of the Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer partners, the company has kicked off the initiative with Honda’s 30 Midwest dealerships and the brand’s digital agency, RPA.

BLiNQ CEO Raj Choudhury has high hopes for the auto program as a central part of the company’s expanding relationship with Facebook — which has been more aggressive about reaching out to local businesses as an ad platform. “This is the solution for auto marketers seeking a meaningful way to connect with auto buyers in order to drive outcomes to impact and grow the bottom line,” he said when asked for details about AutoLIFT’s origins and how BLiNQ expects to shift it to other social channels such as Twitter and Pinterest.

GeoMarketing: What prompted BLiNQ to create AutoLIFT?

Raj Choudhury: We built AutoLiFT because we saw a need in the marketplace. BLiNQ was one of the first Preferred Marketing Partners for Facebook and has always been at the forefront of creating innovative technical solutions within the social space. Because of our close partnership with Facebook, we were able to consult with them throughout the product development process to ensure that our technical solution delivers on key KPIs [key performance indicators] for Auto brands while simultaneously bringing additional value to the Facebook platform.

Does it build on other tools that targeted auto-intenders on social media generally?

AutoLiFT leverages custom Facebook audience segments based on their past purchase behavior (e.g., that their lease is about to expire, or the number of years their current car has been registered, etc.). However, Phase-2 will marry in other intender/buy signals (e.g., life events) and sentiment from other social channels including Twitter, Pinterest and others.

How does AutoLIFT work? How does it target Facebook users in particular?

Prior to AutoLiFT, there was no technical way for auto marketers to dynamically target specific advertising creative to users who were in-market to buy a vehicle at scale. Instead, Facebook users received generic ads which linked to multi-step landing pages where they had to enter in their zipcode to see the relevant in-market incentives.

AutoLiFT streamlines this process — it allows auto brands, agencies and dealers to serve specific, localized, and personalized ads to in-market consumers on Facebook. Our first AutoLiFT solution is for Tier 2. With this solution, dynamic messages automatically generate make and model ads based on local incentives, and our advanced behavioral targeting powered by Datalogix and POLK ensures that the ads reach people with the styles, models and incentive types that interest them. In the future, we envision other technical solutions to Tier 1 and Tier 3 marketing challenges.

Does AutoLiFT have its own set of success metrics? What does it measure? Is it foot-traffic into dealers, actual sales, or simply engagement with a placement on Facebook?

The AutoLiFT solutions tracks, optimizes, and provides insights on lower-funnel actions taken by car buying intenders on the web (e.g., landing page or dealer website). Ads drive intenders to the local offer details landing page for the specific model and incentive [that] they are served, and actions from these pages serve as a signal for purchase consideration and intent. Targeting and messaging are broken out into two segments:

One is “Retention,” which, for example, focuses on people in-market to buy a truck who currently own a Chevrolet.

The second segment is “Conquest,” which is for people in-market to buy a truck who currently own a competing[brand’s] make

Do you have an average estimate of what AutoLIFT can do for dealerships in terms of driving any of these possible metrics?

We expect to launch our Tier 3 AutoLiFT solution in the spring of 2015, which will be a dealer-centric solution. This Tier 3 solution will dynamically serve ads with specific information for actual vehicles currently available for sale on dealer’s lots. Metrics for success will be foot-traffic into dealers and the sales of those specific vehicles.

Does AutoLIFT work with other G/O Digital solutions, like Shoplocal? Or is this intended as a strictly focused, standalone solution?

Via the ShopLocal API, we are able to curate content and creative based on the Auto brand’s incentive feeds, and then serve the ads at scale through BLiNQ’s proprietary AutoLiFT platform.

How many dealerships are you currently working with (and for how long?) How many do you expect to work with by the first half of 2015?

None currently, as our Tier 3 solution is not yet live.

We’re hoping to build on the Honda campaign with more markets in the Midwest. However, we currently have a number of conversations underway with multiple brands spanning various regions throughout the US.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.