How to Get the Audience Targeting Data Your Dealership Needs for 2021

Dec 11, 2020
Kevin LeSage, Director of Digital Marketing

Data strategy and audience targeting will be more critical than ever in 2021. Because this election and COVID-19 have changed our historical performance, year-over-year analysis comparing 2020 and 2021 will not be what it has been in the past. And data strategy and awareness have never been so important. As you look to do more with less, more powerful data is essential to finding efficiencies in marketing and advertising spend.

Identifying the right audience targets is the key to effective advertising spend

The value of marketing today is in delivering multiple, personalized messages to key audiences. It’s more difficult to execute than the spray and pray, but it will eliminate waste in your advertising, creating a more efficient digital marketing program. I’d bet on this all day! 

According to Cox Automotive’s ongoing consumer study (November update), 20% of consumers intend to buy within a vehicle within the next six months.1 Without proper targeting and data tools, you could be wasting your money targeting the other 80% of people who aren’t anywhere close to being in market. And even within that audience of 20%, your strategy for winning the sale would vary a lot if you knew who was just dreaming, who was ready to buy next week, and who wouldn’t be ready until next May!

One of my favorite quotes speaks to this business struggle we all face:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker. 

From a marketing perspective, what matters more than being able to identify in-market shoppers?

Nothing is more important. Creating custom audiences (with in-market shoppers who are ready to buy being one of them) is the fastest way to eliminate wasted money and effort. That’s true whether we’re talking about digital or traditional advertising. Think about it, do you send out mailers to everyone, or just people you know are coming off lease? As you know, targeting huge lists can get expensive quickly and lead to a lot of waste. So, the more you can fine-tune your audience targeting, the better. Your CRM undoubtedly offers some great data for targeted marketing, such as those customers with 3 months or 6 months left on their leases, but what about those potential customers who are harder to identify?    

Now, dealers can target in-market shoppers in a way that has never been possible before.

For the first time ever, Cox Automotive has released an analytics tool that analyzes all consumer activity across multiple automotive brands. With Audience Explorer, we’re measuring every lead, every visit, every impression, down to a household identity graph. Autotrader clients can see it all within their reporting and analytics tool, nVision. You can read more about it in this post from our tech partner, Amazon:  “Cox Automotive scales digital personalization using an identity graph powered by Amazon Neptune.”  

Now, we can identify “Ready to Buy” households that are 11.46 times as likely to buy than other shoppers. 2

Did you know? If you’re an Autotrader dealer, you’ve already got access to Audience Explorer through nVision. Let your Dealer Success Consultant know if you need help!

When you can parse out who’s ready to buy versus actively shopping versus casually browsing, and avoid those who aren’t currently shopping, you’ve got the data you need for marketing that converts. In addition to shopper segments, we can even accurately predict the make a consumer will buy 91% of the time.3  

What can you learn about in-market car shoppers in your area?

Using the Audience Explorer report in nVision, dealers literally have the ability to see real-time consumer activity happening online in their markets. Measured on a heat map, we identify the zip codes with the most opportunity for dealers to connect with car shoppers. The exciting thing about this report is that it impacts almost every marketing channel: OTT, social, advertising, direct mail, email campaigns, etc.

Right car shopper, right place, right moment. 

These fundamentals of advertising will never change. But, the technology and data strategy needed to execute on a marketing campaign will always change. Custom audiences allow you to target the right shopper, at the right time, with an impactful message. Together, we can identify the custom audiences that will drive more shopper engagement and save your dealership money by eliminating waste.  


12020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study, November 2020

2Buying Signals predictions validated against VinSolutions CRM sales records, May – Jul 2020