Automotive Digital Advertising: Boost Your Results with AI

min read
Automotive Digital Advertising: Boost Your Results with AI

Soaring interest rates, high prices, and tight marketing budgets made 2023 a challenging year for automotive marketers. Despite the macroeconomic difficulties, the U.S. market is pacing to finish 2023 with new-vehicle sales up over 10% from 2022 and at the highest level since 2019 according to Cox Automotive. The pent-up demand from two years of limited inventory is still driving sales, so there’s reason to be optimistic about 2024. =

There is also reason to be prepared for increased competition. Digital ad spending in the automotive space is projected to increase by 11% in 2024 as the competition for car buyer’s attention heats up. With interest rates stabilizing or even softening in 2024, every dealership marketer is going to need to stomp on the gas to stay ahead of the competition.

To break through the noise, leading automotive marketers are using conversation intelligence AI to improve their marketing effectiveness and get more from their marketing budgets. With conversation intelligence, you can target the right buyers, enhance your bidding strategy, and capture valuable insights from the voice of your customers to drive more revenue. 

Here’s how conversation intelligence can give you an edge in the coming year.

5 Key Trends in Automotive Digital Advertising 

The automotive advertising landscape is rapidly changing due to the decreasing likelihood of a recession, changes in buying habits that were accelerated by the pandemic, and rising customer experience expectations. Check out these top digital advertising trends and what they mean for your business.

1. Today’s automotive buyers favor online and phone call interactions

At Digital Dealer East, there was a constant refrain among the attendees: “We’re getting a lot more phone calls now.” The pandemic shifted the way consumers interact with automotive dealerships and repair centers. When social distancing measures were in place, they became accustomed to researching and scheduling appointments online or over the phone. Automotive brands invested their resources in making the digital-to-call experience as seamless as possible and consumers have continued to take advantage of these options ever since.

2. Customer experience expectations are at an all-time high

According to our recent Buyer Experience Report, 76% of consumers will stop doing business with a company after just one bad experience. If you don’t provide a seamless, customized experience for your customers every step of the way — regardless of channel — your digital advertising conversion rates will suffer. 

If you exceed customer experience expectations, on the other hand, there are great rewards to reap. Our Buyer Experience report also found that 63% of consumers will pay more for a product or service to get better customer service — even in the face of inflation!

3. Inventory-based marketing is more important than ever

Car buyers are now spending an average of seven months researching their options, compared to 2.7 months in 2017. Today’s car buyers are far more informed than ever before. They’re likely to know what they want before they reach out and engage with you. 

Therefore, the most successful automotive digital advertisers will take on an inventory-based marketing strategy. This means you need to target each buyer with cars in your inventory that meet their unique needs, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. To accomplish this at scale, automotive marketers capture voice of the customer insights from phone calls with conversation intelligence solutions like Invoca to understand and quantify what vehicles buyers are interested in.

4. Automotive advertising spending is increasing

As auto companies ramp up their ad spending, the automotive advertising landscape becomes increasingly cluttered and competitive. According to eMarketer, the US auto industry has rebounded from its H1 2020 losses and is investing more heavily in advertising. While this surge in ad spending signifies a more active and robust market, it also creates a challenging environment for businesses to stand out and make an impact. With more players vying for consumers' attention, cutting through the noise and capturing audience engagement becomes increasingly difficult.  

In this cluttered advertising landscape, automotive marketers face the challenge of effectively reaching their target audience amidst a barrage of competing messages. As highlighted in this blog post on automotive marketing trends, the increase in ad spending by auto companies contributes to a more crowded marketplace. With numerous brands and dealerships vying for consumer attention, it becomes imperative for automotive marketers to find innovative ways to differentiate their ads and capture the interest of potential buyers. Finding unique selling propositions, delivering compelling messages, and utilizing creative and targeted advertising strategies are essential in order to break through the clutter and effectively engage consumers in a highly competitive auto advertising ecosystem.

5. Marketers are using artificial intelligence to scale their results

Automotive marketers are embracing the power of AI to revolutionize their marketing strategies and it’s playing a crucial role in shaping the future of automotive marketing. One way they’re leveraging AI is through personalized targeting and ad campaigns. By harnessing AI algorithms and machine learning, marketers can analyze vast amounts of consumer data to identify specific preferences and behaviors, allowing for highly targeted and personalized advertising that resonates with potential car buyers. Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming increasingly popular in the automotive industry, providing efficient and interactive customer support, answering inquiries, and guiding users through the car buying process. 

Another noteworthy application of AI in the automotive marketing landscape is the use of Invoca's AI-powered conversation intelligence. Automotive marketers are utilizing Invoca's AI technology to gain valuable insights from phone conversations at scale. By leveraging AI algorithms to analyze call recordings and transcripts, marketers can extract key data points, identify customer preferences, pain points, and buying signals. This rich conversational data helps automotive marketers optimize their advertising campaigns, refine sales agent scripts, and make data-driven decisions to outperform their competition.

Automotive Consumers Prefer to Call During the Buying Journey

According to our recent Buyer Experience Report study, 31% of consumers say phone calls are their preferred way to contact an automotive business. When it comes to conversions that happen offline, particularly calls to dealership locations, many marketers are entirely flying blind, while others may have access to proxy metrics like click-to-call data. A click on the call button equals a conversion, right? Not exactly. It’s a guess, you know it’s a guess, and it’s messing up your attribution.

If you don’t have data from every touchpoint in your customer journey, you’re probably blowing money on campaigns that aren’t performing and your CPA calculation is going to be way off. In fact, we looked at survey data from over 500 marketers and found they’re overestimating their CPA by 46% on average! Thankfully, there are some fairly simple ways to use AI to get better visibility into your buying journey, accurately compute your true CPA, and understand your ROAS.

How to Measure Your True CPA

To fix this, first thing’s first, you have to be able to calculate your true CPA. That means you need to be able to account for all of your conversions driven by paid media, including the ones that happen over the phone at your dealership locations or service centers.

In this example, you’re only tracking online conversions, meaning conversions that are completed entirely online through the website. So you’re spending $10,000 a month on ads and reporting 50 online conversions with that ad spend. This means you’d have a $200 CPA. That might seem high or low depending on your business, but let’s not get too caught up in the exact numbers.

Just by using a conversation intelligence platform that uses AI to analyze conversations and determine what calls are converting, you find out that this $10,000 spend is actually driving 100 conversions. Without making any other changes, you cut your measured CPA in half.

This is what we call your “true CPA.” From there, it gets really exciting when you start using AI-derived conversation data to optimize campaigns and see a big improvement in CPA, which we’ll get into next.

Easily train an AI model to measure call conversions with Signal AI Studio

Training an AI model to measure your call conversions may sound intimidating, but Invoca makes it easy! Our Signal AI Studio offers no-code UI that speeds you through the process of training a custom AI model. You simply tell it the insight you want to measure, and Signal AI Studio shows you transcribed examples from your calls that either fit or don’t fit that insight. It learns with every response, creating a new AI model in no time. It can measure any conversion outcome that matters to your business, including if a caller made a purchase, booked an appointment, received a quote, and much more!

Learn more about how Signal AI Studio works here

Optimizing Google Smart Bidding with Call Tracking Data

One of the great examples of AI enabling marketing optimization automation is Google Smart Bidding. A lot of SEM marketers who were accustomed to making manual bidding adjustments were rightfully wary of the technology at first. How can it know better than me when I know my business so well? Well, first, there’s just no way that people can economically do keyword bidding adjustments in real time on any sort of scale. 

With Smart Bidding, you can set it up to optimize to your goal, whether that’s clicks, CPA, or conversions, so you can even end up saving money, or at least getting better returns because Google is putting it against keywords that actually drive results that matter to you.

AutoNation, America’s largest and most admired auto retailer, uses call tracking data to inform Google Smart Bidding. AutoNation passes Invoca’s call attribution data into Google Ads, allowing it to optimize bids and CPCs based on both online and phone call conversions, ensuring they’re getting the most out of their campaign budgets.

“Our biggest problem was that our phone calls were going into a data black hole,” said Anand Rao, SVP of digital business at AutoNation. “We couldn’t tie a sale back to the campaign that drove it and that made it difficult for us to optimize our media spend. Invoca has given us complete visibility into the campaigns driving each call as well as what happens on those calls. It’s enabled us to get a higher return on our ad dollars and prove our full ROI.”

Read the full AutoNation case study here.

Reduce Wasted Ad Spend with Offline Conversion Data

Ad suppression is a key tool in the digital marketer’s kit to eliminate wasted ad spend by ensuring that they aren’t serving (and paying for) ads shown to existing or recently-acquired customers. However, this can become a challenge if those conversions are happening offline. 

By tracking all call conversions with Invoca and pushing this information into platforms like Criteo, Skai, or Marin Software, marketers can automatically suppress ads to those who have already converted over the phone. This not only reduces wasted ad spend, it prevents you from annoying your new customers with irrelevant ads.

Gain New Customer Insights and Increase Conversion Rates with AI

Today, customers expect more personalized and empathetic experiences than ever. To provide this, though, you need deep knowledge about your customers’ needs and their experiences.

With Signal AI Studio, automotive marketers can train custom AI models to detect meaningful insights from every customer conversation. You can optimize marketing spend and dealership sales performance by surfacing previously unknown insights to: 

Automatically capture insights from phone conversations at scale: Signal AI Studio makes it easy for anyone to quickly understand caller intent and product or service interest, the conversation outcome, topics discussed, and the performance of the agent on the call. Invoca AI models are trained on each business’s actual calls, making them extremely accurate.

Capture valuable data to improve campaign reporting, audience retargeting, and sales call follow-up: Signal AI Autocapture uses AI-powered named entity recognition (NER) to extract meaningful first-party data from conversations to enrich the customer profile. For example, when a consumer calls a dealership while shopping for a new car, Signal AI Autocapture extracts from that conversation a structured set of data about the year, make, and model of the vehicle in which the caller expresses interest. This data can be used to improve campaign reporting, audience retargeting, and lead follow-up. 

Visually uncover new insights from thousands of calls at once using Topic Explorer: Reveal themes and topic trends across thousands of calls using GPT-powered call summaries. Teams can benefit from new insights about customers, call experiences, agent performance, and marketing campaigns to improve CX and increase ROI. 

Get concise summaries of every call into your dealerships: Powered by generative AI, GPT Call Analysis enables teams to understand the essence of a lengthy call in three to four sentences, rather than spending 15 minutes listening to a call recording. Sales managers can also use pre-defined prompts to spot common problems, and thus spend more time on value-added coaching instead of manually sifting through call data. Invoca backs all AI products with its enterprise-grade reliability, security, redaction, and compliance to keep customer data safe and protect consumer privacy.

Track the tone of phone conversations with Invoca's robust sentiment analysis

You can also use Invoca's Sentiment Analysis feature to improve call handling at your locations. When it comes to analyzing sentiment, most speech analytics tools only track the overall sentiment of a call, flagging a call as either “positive” or “negative.” But many marketers say that call-level sentiment isn’t particularly useful or actionable.

We believe that the real opportunity lies in the ability to track caller and agent sentiment separately, and monitor how it changes throughout a conversation. So we built our sentiment analysis solution to not only track the individual sentiment of the caller and the agent separately, but also how it changes throughout the call. This makes it possible to monitor how effective agents are at turning a callers’ negative sentiment into positive, as an example. You can use this data to collaborate with your locations to deliver better customer experiences that drive conversions.

The Top 5 Benefits of AI for Automotive Marketers

1. Enhanced Personalization

AI enables marketers to gather and analyze vast amounts of data to understand customer preferences, behaviors, and purchase patterns. This allows for highly personalized and targeted marketing campaigns, delivering relevant content and experiences to individual customers, resulting in improved engagement and conversion rates. Invoca's AI-powered conversation intelligence provides insights from phone conversations, allowing for personalized interactions and tailored marketing strategies based on customer conversations and preferences. Pro tip: You REALLY want to avoid crossing the streams when it comes to Ford and Chevy fans. Those battle lines run DEEP! 

2. Improved Customer Experience

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide instant and personalized customer support, answering inquiries and guiding users through the car buying process. This improves the overall customer experience by providing timely and accurate information, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Invoca's conversation intelligence helps automotive marketers understand customer pain points and preferences, allowing for better call handling and enhanced customer experiences during phone conversations. 

3. Advanced Data Analysis

AI enables marketers to analyze large datasets quickly and extract valuable insights. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, marketers can uncover patterns, trends, and customer behavior that may not be immediately apparent to human analysis. This allows for data-driven decision-making and the identification of new opportunities. Invoca's AI-powered conversation intelligence analyzes call recordings and transcripts, providing automotive marketers with actionable insights to optimize advertising campaigns, refine sales strategies, and gain a competitive edge. 

4. Streamlined Operations

AI automates repetitive tasks, freeing up human resources for more strategic activities. This leads to increased efficiency, cost savings, and improved productivity. Invoca's AI-powered conversation intelligence automates the analysis of phone conversations at scale, allowing marketers to gain insights from a large volume of calls without manual effort, saving time and resources. 

5. Predictive Analytics

AI algorithms can analyze historical data and make predictions about future outcomes, such as customer preferences, purchasing behavior, and market trends. This enables marketers to make informed decisions, anticipate customer needs, and proactively tailor marketing strategies. A prime example of this is how Invoca's AI-powered conversation intelligence helps automotive marketers predict customer needs and preferences based on past conversations, improving ad targeting and conversion rates.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca’s AI helps automotive marketers drive more revenue? Check out these resources:

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