page contents Automotive Thought Leadership: Ralph Paglia: September 2014 My title page contents

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Could Chat be Seen as Texting? Why is Chat Becoming More Popular for Car Shoppers?

Why Chat is Becoming More Popular for Car Shoppers - Automotive Digital Marketing 


Some say that it's the technology that hasn't truly evolved much that's the culprit, but we know that reason is simply untrue. First, lead-generating technology and website platforms have improved. Second, chat technology (something I know very well) has also improved at the same rate. However, the number of people chatting and the number of leads generated by chat are on the rise, so there's more to the equation than technology fatigue. Consumers still want to communicate with dealers, but more and more are choosing chat over lead forms and phone calls. Why?
Nobody likes to miss an opportunity, so we continue to test (as we always do) not just the methods of improving website chat but also the science behind the increase in frequency. What is it about chat that makes it more appealing today than a couple of years ago? For the answer, we turned our attention to good ol' common sense.
Texting has been on the rise since the first text was ever sent. Unlike voice calls and lead form fills, texting is the one component of the mobile experience that has grown over the past couple of years. Some dealers have even tried to implement texting as a lead option on their websites with varying degrees of success. Yet, chat continues to rise. Is there a correlation.
Our contention is that chat, when done properly on a dealer's mobile website, offers a similar experience to consumers who adore texting. However, it's better for many of them because it offers an anonymity that they do not get from texts, voice calls, and lead forms. They have the ability to get their answers in a format very similar to their beloved texting without having to hand over their personals up front.
We have seen the biggest increases in chats and leads when the mobile chat is proactive on their phones and when proper scripts are used by the operator to prompt the leads accordingly. People are still skeptical about giving their personal information, but they're willing to give it to you once they are comfortable. That's the purpose of chat, to create a gap between the dealership and the consumer that they're allowed to cross at their discretion.
When you put the right chat interface in front of them and allow them to control the initial part of the conversation, you'll be able to improve the overall lead-generation on your website. With leads comes more sale. Isn't that what we all want?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Secret FTC Investigation of Car Dealers Who Declined Truecar Discovered by DC Reporter - Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

Secret FTC Investigation of Car Dealers Who Declined Truecar Discovered and Revealed by Washington DC Reporter

 

FTC acknowledges auto dealer probe after discovery bust-up...

Edited Excerpt from Article Written by Harry Phillips
The Federal Trade Commission's battle to get Ralph Paglia, a car industry blogger to hand over confidential communications, private email, subscriber lists and documents about Truecar, an online price comparison website has shed new light on the antitrust authority's ongoing and ill-advised investigation of what they claim to be potential wrongdoing among thousands of car dealers.  
(Harry Phillips is a reporter for "Global Competition Review" in Washington, DC. They cover antitrust news and frequently report on the Federal Trade Commission.)

Mr. Phillips wrote a story last week on news that the FTC has filed a petition in Nevada Federal Court asking it to compel Ralph Paglia to provide documents and give testimony in connection with its ongoing investigation of the auto dealership industry and an alleged refusal by many car dealers to do business with TrueCar.com in late 2011 and early 2012.
   
The FTC alleges that Ralph Paglia failed to provide various records and documents requested by the FTC within each of several civil investigative demands (CID subpoena). FTC states that the first CID was sent to Paglia in May 2014, and is now seeking an injunction in a Nevada Federal Court compelling Paglia to cooperate.
   
The big question that Harry asked Ralph was whether or not Ralph would comply, and if so, he sought Ralph's confirmation that he now planned to comply with the FTC's demand... Or alternately, would Ralph oppose the commission's demand for an injunction? He sought Paglia's comments on the petition and the FTC's investigation of Car Dealers who either cancelled participation in the TrueCar Auto Buying referral system, or never signed up in the first place.

Ralph Paglia's email reply to Harry Phillips is shown below:

"Mr. Phillips,

Thank you for reaching out, and I would like to speak with you about the matter via phone. Since the NSA and presumably the FTC is studying all emails I send despite the illegal nature of such surveillance, I would feel more comfortable speaking with you by phone.

I can tell you that I have never refused access to any information or records by the FTC, but I am not going to do their jobs for them. I believe slave labor was outlawed quite a few years ago and I am mystified about why the FTC seems to believe they can compel me into forced labor when their staff gets paid plenty to do the work themselves.

Beyond the Nazi-like zeal the FTC seems to have for compelling Americans to do work without compensation, I simply do not understand where the Federal government gets the authority to try and squash freedom of speech, freedom of the press and determine whether an individual should to do business with a particular company.

Ralph Paglia
rpaglia@gmail.com

Point of Contact: 
Harry Phillips, Senior Reporter for "Global Competition Review"
www.globalcompetitionreview.com/usa
Depending on your e-mail client, you may be able to follow the link in the email. If not, please open a web browser and open this link:  http://globalcompetitionreview.com/news/article/36841/ftc-acknowled... For more information, please visit: http://globalcompetitionreview.com/
  

 

From the Most Recent FTC Filings in Federal Court:

FTC STATEMENT OF FACTS
The FTC is investigating whether certain participants in the retail auto industry, including auto dealers and industry consultants, have engaged in an unlawful group boycott of TrueCar, Inc., a firm that helps auto dealers market their cars. TrueCar operates websites that provide detailed information about specific vehicles to potential automobile buyers, and attempts to match potential buyers with sellers. In late 2011 and early 2012, numerous comments about TrueCar appeared on various websites, online blogs, and online social networks that are frequented by auto dealers. These comments criticized TrueCar’s program of online reverse auctions, and other features of TrueCar’s websites, as unfavorable to dealers, and asserted that TrueCar was inducing dealers to sell cars at prices that were too low. Many of the comments urged dealers to discontinue their participation in TrueCar’s reverse auctions, and to terminate their dealings with TrueCar. During this period of time, the number of dealers participating in the TrueCar program and the number of auto sales consummated using TrueCar’s websites declined. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶2.

In February 2012, TrueCar announced that it was eliminating the reverse auction feature on its websites and narrowing the set of pricing and cost information that its sites would reveal to consumers. After TrueCar made these changes, numerous auto dealers resumed doing business with TrueCar. These changes may have made it more difficult for consumers to comparison-shop using TrueCar’s websites, thus relieving pressure on dealers to offer aggressive bids to consumers, and possibly leading to retail price increases. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶3.
On January 17, 2014, the Commission issued a Resolution Authorizing Use of Compulsory Process in Non-Public Investigation, File No. 131-0206 (Pet. Exh. 2). As part of the investigation, the FTC staff is inquiring whether certain consultants, dealers, or other persons or firms involved in the retail automobile industry may have organized, facilitated, or participated in a group boycott of TrueCar. Such actions can constitute “unfair methods of competition,” which are prohibited by Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶2-4.

Respondent, Ralph Paglia, provides auto dealers with consulting services, information, and training relating to online marketing. Mr. Paglia writes frequently about online marketing and other topics of interest to auto dealers, and disseminates his writing through blog postings, comments on online social media networks, and publications on other online forums and websites. He also operates, manages, or moderates several such blogs, websites, and online social networks. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶5-6. Many of the communications criticizing TrueCar’s business model and urging auto dealers not to participate in TrueCar’s reverse auction program appeared on websites and blogs that Mr. Paglia operates or administers. Moreover, materials on Mr. Paglia’s websites and blogs indicate that some industry consultants, dealer groups, and other businesses may have communicated with one another outside of the websites about matters relevant to this investigation. Id. ¶6. FTC staff asked Mr. Paglia to provide such information on a voluntary basis, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Id. ¶7.

On May 2, 2014, the Commission issued a CID (Pet. Exh. 3) requiring Mr. Paglia to produce specified documents and to respond to written questions. On June 18, 2014, the Commission issued another CID (Pet. Exh. 4), requiring Mr. Paglia to appear and give oral testimony under oath at an investigational hearing to be conducted by FTC staff at the Office of the United States Attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pet. Exh. 4, at 1. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶8, 11. The Commission served both CIDs via Federal Express, with receipt-signature requested (and secured). Id. ¶¶9, 12; see Pet.Exhs. 5, 6.

Mr. Paglia failed to comply with either the May 2 CID or the June 18 CID. He has not produced the documents or other information specified in the May 2 CID, and did not appear at the investigational hearing, as required by the June 18 CID. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶10, 13. Mr. Paglia neither petitioned the Commission to quash or modify the CIDs pursuant to the applicable statute and Commission rules, see 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(f); 16 C.F.R. § 2.10, nor did he submit any objections to any of the particular specifications or terms in the CIDs. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶10, 12. To date, Mr. Paglia has not communicated with FTC staff concerning either of the CIDs, nor responded to their other attempts to reach him. Id. ¶14.
  
FTC HAS AUTHORITY TO CONDUCT THE INVESTIGATION
The Commission unequivocally is authorized to conduct the investigation and issue the CIDs at issue here. Congress has granted the FTC broad authority to investigate acts or practices that may violate the FTC Act’s proscription on “unfair methods of competition.” 15 U.S.C. § 45(a). Section 3 of that Act empowers the Commission to:
“prosecute any inquiry necessary to its duties in any part of the United
States.” Id. § 43. Section 6(a), in turn, authorizes the Commission “[t]o gather and compile information concerning, and to investigate * * * the organization, business, conduct, practices, and management of any person, partnership, or corporation engaged in or whose business affects commerce,”
with certain exceptions not applicable here. Id.§ 46(a). And, as noted above, Section 20(c) of the FTC Act authorizes the Commission to issue a CID to any person who may be in possession of documents or other information relevant to an FTC investigation. Id. § 57b-1(c)(1).

The two CIDs at issue here concern an investigation into whether certain automobile dealers, consultants, or other businesses engaged in “unfair methods of competition,” in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, by “agreeing to restrain competition” or “agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar, Inc.” Pet. Exh. 2 (Compulsory Process Resolution), at 1. Accordingly, the investigation to which the CIDs pertain is well within the scope of the FTC Act’s Section 5 prohibition. See 15 U.S.C. § 45(a) (“Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, * * * are hereby declared unlawful.”). Thus, the Commission indisputably is authorized to conduct its investigation and to issue the CIDs to Mr. Paglia.
EVIDENCE SOUGHT IS RELEVANT TO THE INVESTIGATION
Both CIDs are designed to elicit material information that is relevant to the Commission’s investigation. The specific document requests and interrogatories set forth in the May 2 CID required Mr. Paglia to produce documents containing or relating to Mr. Paglia’s communications, correspondence, or meetings with TrueCar and other auto dealers, as well as documents, including blog posts, pertaining to the effect of TrueCar’s services on retail auto prices, auto dealers’ decisions on whether to stop participating in the TrueCar reverse auction program, and Mr. Paglia’s role in operating and controlling the content of the relevant websites and blogs. See Pet. Exh. 3, Schedule, Specs. 1-6. The June 18 CID sought Mr. Paglia’s oral testimony on the same topics. See Pet. Exh. 4, at 1, 3.
The FTC investigation is focused on whether those communications or other interactions among such parties constituted or related to a potential group boycott of TrueCar. As the FTC’s lead investigating attorney has testified:
“the investigation would be furthered by obtaining information Mr. Paglia may have in his possession relating to the online communications, direct communications, and other activities at issue in the investigation.”
Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶7; see id. ¶¶5-6, 14. See Dynavac, 6 F.3d at 1414 (in seeking judicial enforcement of its compulsory process, the government’s “slight” burden “may be satisfied by a declaration from an investigating agent.”).

The CIDs seek information that is demonstrably neither “incompetent [n]or irrelevant,” to the Commission’s lawful investigation. Golden Valley, 689 F.3d at 1113-14; see also Karuk Tribe Hous. Auth., 260 F.3d at 1076 (same); Children’s Hosp. Med. Ctr., 719 F.2d at 1428 (same). They should, therefore, be promptly enforced by this Court.
  
DECLARATION OF
MELISSA WESTMAN-CHERRY 

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare as follows:

1. I am an attorney employed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) in Washington, D.C. I am authorized to execute this declaration verifying the facts that are set forth in the Petition of the Federal Trade Commission for an Order Enforcing Civil Investigative Demands (Petition). I have
read the Petition and have reviewed the exhibits thereto (referred to hereinafter as “Pet. Exh.”), and verify that Pet. Exh. 2 through Pet. Exh. 6 are true and correct copies of the original documents. (This declaration is Pet. Exh. 1). The facts set forth herein are based on my personal knowledge or information made known to me in the course of my official duties.

2. I have been assigned to work on an investigation into conduct relating to TrueCar, Inc. TrueCar is a California-based company in the business of operating websites that match potential automobile purchasers with sellers and provide detailed information to consumers about the pricing of specific vehicles. In late 2011 and early 2012, numerous comments about TrueCar appeared on various websites, web logs (blogs), and online social networks targeted to auto dealers. These comments criticized TrueCar’s unique program of online “reverse auctions” and other features of TrueCar’s websites as unfavorable to dealers, and asserted that TrueCar was inducing dealers to sell cars at prices that were too low. Many of the comments urged dealers to discontinue their participation in TrueCar’s reverse auctions, and to terminate their dealings with TrueCar. During this period of time, the number of dealers participating in the TrueCar program, and the number of auto sales consummated using TrueCar’s websites, declined.
3. In February 2012, TrueCar announced that it was eliminating the reverse auction feature on its websites and narrowing the set of pricing and cost information that its sites would reveal to consumers. After TrueCar made these changes, numerous auto dealers resumed doing business with TrueCar. These changes may have made it more difficult for consumers to comparison-shop using TrueCar’s websites, thus relieving pressure on dealers to offer aggressive bids to consumers and possibly leading to retail price increases.

4. In connection with this investigation, on January 17, 2014, the Commission issued a Resolution Authorizing Use of Compulsory Process in Non-Public Investigation, File No. 131-0206. This Resolution authorized the issuance of Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) to gather information about “whether firms in the retail automobile industry, including automobile dealers and industry consultants, may be engaging in, or may have engaged in, conduct violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. §45, as amended, by agreeing to restrain competition, including by agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar, Inc.” Pet. Exh. 2 (Compulsory Process Resolution), at 1.

5. Respondent Ralph Paglia is a consultant who provides business advice and training to auto dealers regarding online marketing, lead generation, and related matters. He is President of Automotive Media Partners LLC, which has its principal place of business at 2701 N. Rainbow Blvd., Suite 2202, Las Vegas,
Nevada 89108.
6. Mr. Paglia writes frequently about online marketing and other topics of interest to auto dealers, and disseminates his writing through blog postings, comments on online social media networks, and publications on other online forums and websites. He also operates, manages, or moderates several such blogs, websites, and online social networks , including www.dealerelite.net, ralphpaglia.blogspot.com, www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com, www.automotivedigitaltraining.com, and automotivesocial.com. Many of the comments criticizing TrueCar’s business model and urging auto dealers not to participate in the TrueCar reverse-auction program appeared on websites and blogs that Mr. Paglia operates or administers. Moreover, materials on Mr. Paglia’s websites and blogs indicate that some industry consultants, dealer groups, and other businesses may have communicated with one another outside of the websites about matters relevant to this investigation.

7. Accordingly, the FTC staff believes that the investigation would be furthered by obtaining information that Mr. Paglia may have in his possession relating to the online communications, direct communications, and other activities at issue in the investigation. The FTC staff made a number of attempts to secure such information from Mr. Paglia on a voluntary basis, but Mr. Paglia declined to provide any information in response to the FTC staff’s inquiries.

8. On May 2, 2014, the Commission issued a CID (Pet. Exh. 3) requiring Mr. Paglia to produce specified documents and to respond to certain written questions. Specifically, the May 2 CID required Mr. Paglia to produce documents containing or relating to communications, correspondence, or meetings with TrueCar and auto dealers. The CID also sought documents, including blog posts, pertaining to the effect of TrueCar’s services on retail auto prices, auto dealers’ decisions on whether to stop participating in the TrueCar program, and Mr. Paglia’s role in operating and controlling the content of the relevant websites and blogs. Pet. Exh. 3, Schedule, Specs. 1-6.

9. The Commission sent the May 2 CID to Mr. Paglia via Federal Express on May 5, 2014, with a requirement that the package be signed for upon delivery. The Federal Express tracking receipt (attached hereto as Pet. Exh. 5) shows that the May 2 CID was delivered to Mr. Paglia’s address and signed for on May 7. The May 2 CID directed Mr. Paglia to produce the requested documents and information by May 21, 2014. See Pet. Exh. 3, at 1.

10. Mr. Paglia neither petitioned the Commission to quash or modify the CID, in accordance with the relevant statute and Commission rules, see 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(f); 16 C.F.R. § 2.10, nor did he submit any objections to any of the specifications in the CID. Nonetheless, to date, Mr. Paglia has not produced any documents or information in response to the May 2 CID.

11. On June 18, 2014, the Commission issued a second CID to Mr. Paglia (Pet. Exh. 4), requiring him to appear and give oral testimony under oath at an investigational hearing to be conducted before me. The June 18 CID specified that this hearing would be held on July 10, 2014, at the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, at 333 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Suite 5000, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101, commencing at 10:00 a.m. Pet. Exh. 4, at 1.

12. The Commission sent the June 18 CID to Mr. Paglia via Federal Express on June 23, 2014, with a requirement that the package be signed for upon delivery. The Federal Express tracking receipt (attached hereto as Pet. Exh. 6) shows that the June 18 CID was delivered to Mr. Paglia’s address and signed for on June 26. Commission staff also made informal attempts, by letter and email, to contact Mr. Paglia to discuss the upcoming investigational hearing. Mr. Paglia neither responded to this correspondence, nor filed any objections to the terms of the CID, nor petitioned the Commission to quash or modify the CID. 

The entire document comprising the FTC filing in Federal Court is available for download using this link: FTC_TrueCar_Paglia_CID.pdf
         

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Important Is It For The Leader To Be Great In order For The Team To Be Great?

Automotive Digital Marketing 

Does A Great Leader Make A Great Team?

I recently read a fantastic article that an HR Professional wrote about her experience buying a MINI. The article itself focused on lessons in leadership she had learned from a sales manager at a MINI dealership while purchasing a new car. In her message she relays that this sales manager had built a better team by listening and allowing his team to build him. There were additional lessons  about how his team created an excellent customer experience in arguably one of the places consumers dread going to the most – a car dealership. Our company works with MINI  so we are aware of their quirky and fun branding style. Staying consistent with this public persona, MINI encourages its dealerships to think and act differently.

An example of this is a story I heard recently about an automotive vendor named Bob. Bob has been in management positions in the automotive industry for  over 30 years. This gentleman has worked mainly in highline stores including Porsche, BMW, Maserati, Ferrari and others. His normal attire consisted of tailored high-quality suits, starched dress shirts and shoes that always had that military spit polished shine. Recently, he became the GM for a MINI dealership.  MINI encourages its franchise dealer employees to wear what they call “MINI gear.” For lack of better words, these uniforms consist of polo shirts and other more casual branded clothing. This is designed to reinforce the brand and make customers feel more comfortable. This was quite a change considering what Bob was used to, but helps promote the MINI way of doing things when even the GM is dressed in a casual manner.

The most notable point in the MINI purchasing article is that “great management makes a great experience.” While a great leader is important, having a great team behind him or her is even more so. You can have the greatest quarterback in history but if the team doesn’t support him, you will lose games. Creating an excellent customer experience takes more than great leaders. This sales manager’s management style is exemplary. I applaud his commitment to doing the right thing, respecting his team, allowing his team to review him and being reflective of those criticisms.

Some of the smaller details of the article should be reiterated, because that is what  shaped the buyer’s experience from a being a good one to being a great one. Here are some of the details that caught my attention:
  1. The author was immediately greeted by a salesperson who not only introduced herself, but began the conversation by selling herself with some personal information.
     
  2. She was knowledgeable about the product,  but if there was something she didn’t know, she admitted it and then found the answer.
     
  3. Throughout the buying process, “everyone gave me a sense of trust that they were all playing straight.” This can’t happen without employees who are engaged and committed to the organization’s success.
     
  4. The salesperson introduced the detailer as the dealership’s “best kept secret.” How often do behind-the-scenes people not only get recognized but recognized in front of customers?

These small things were the genesis of the customer’s great experience – one she attributed to great management. There is little doubt that the leader of this dealership is doing an excellent job cultivating an exceptional customer experience.  Actions he takes as a great leader are a direct result of the fact that he has a great team behind him. His philosophy makes him better at his job, but the way he conducts himself make his employees and staff want to succeed as well.

One of the greatest quotes in the article is also one of the best ways to be successful not only in life but in management:
“…learn from everything, make the good better, and turn the bad around.”

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ford Dealers get Google+ Services from FordDirect at No Charge to Dealership

Great News! To help drive more web traffic into the dealership for sales and service appointments, Ford and Lincoln have partnered with FordDirect to provide professional Google+ business listings at no charge to all dealerships and Quick Lanes.  

Every Ford and Lincoln dealership and Quick Lane Retailer will soon have a customized Google+ business listing, and all you have to do is complete a brief survey that has been pre-populated with your dealership's information. Please click here dashboard.dealerconnection.com to complete the survey. The survey will remain openuntil April 18, so don't wait! 

If you don't complete the survey by April 18, a Google+ business listing will be claimed for your dealership using existing information, and you will have the opportunity to make changes as needed. Dealers can opt out of the claiming process by using the same survey if they do not want their page claimed.  However, dealerships and Quick Lanes without Google+ business listings will lose traffic and sales and service opportunities.

Remember, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online.  Your Google+ page connects you with customers on search, Google Maps, and Google+, no matter what device they are using. (Source: Google) For more information about Google+ business listings, including FAQs, please visit our website at: social.forddirectdealers.com/GooglePlus

If you have any questions, please call your Digital Performance Manager at 1-866-550-7812 or visit www.forddirect.com.

[Sent from Ralph's iPad Air]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Is #AutoMarketing Becoming A Car Buyer's Latest Stalker? - Automotive Digital Marketing ProCom

Is #AutoMarketing Becoming A Car Buyer's Latest Stalker? - Automotive Digital Marketing

Is #AutoMarketing Becoming a Car Buyer's Latest Stalker?

Photo: Getty Images

Future Auto Marketing Could Be a Little Creepy Get ready for brands to follow you everywhere.

If the automotive industry can be seen as a bellwether for digital marketing, get ready for some seriously precise targeting that straddles the line between powerfully scientific and creepily intrusive...

Written by Mike Shields

During a lively presentation at the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable event in Las Vegas, Yong Sung, svp and digital group client director for MediaVest, and Duncan McCall, CEO and co-founder of the mobile data firm PlaceIQ, laid out a current campaign designed to target in-market car buyers, one that tracks people from the moment they begin contemplating making a purchase to the moment they leave their house and head to the dealer.
According to Sung and McCall, auto brands are currently testing using actual vehicle registration data, blended with data from auto researchers like Polk and location data from their personal mobile devices. The pair showed maps tracking groups of car shoppers as they traveled from place to place in their own neighborhoods, and laid out scenarios where they might be able to deliver ads to these folks as they visit physical dealer locations, and different ads as they go across the street to a competitor’s dealership.
“We can remarket to consumers who have been to a car lot,” said Sung. “This is about triangulation ... we can do this on a national scale."
Until recently, behavioral targeting has been limited to re-targeting consumers on their desktops based on their Web surfing history, Sung explained. But now, he said:
“Where you go is who you are. And we know where you live, where you’ve been and where you are going.”
Whether or not a mobile banner ad, even with this level of precision targeting, can spark someone to buy a $40,000 car is still very much up for debate (as Weather Company chief global revenue officer Curt Hecht put it during a panel on Thursday):
“Banner ads are really difficult on mobile ... most peoples' thumbs accidentally click on them... And many think auto brands have been
oversold on the Web."
Regardless, Sung said brands are already trying these sorts of powerful targeting tactics. And besides mobile ads, Sung added, this data cocktail of vehicle registration and location information could inform TV campaigns and direct mail.

While such a mobile-heavy, privacy-envelope-pushing approach may make some brands uncomfortable, the auto companies may have no choice, according to Clayton Stanfield, senior manager of dealer outreach for eBay Motors. That’s because the millennial generation, the auto industry’s next crucial target, lives this way.

Stanfield said that millennials won’t tolerate the typical four-hour experience of buying a car from a dealer. They’ve done all the research on models, financing, etc., and they expect the experience to be quicker than the local sales guy wants. And they expect to be able to whip out their phones to comparison shop while they're walking the car lot. “There’s a huge disconnect,” said Stanfield.
Lee Nadler, marketing communications manager for Mini USA, concurred:
"People used to visit seven dealers. Now its 1.2. They do all the shopping research ahead of time. There is no linear funnel any more. And touch point by touch point, we have to sell cars.”
Particularly to those millennials—who were a big theme at the show—as the industry grapples with research showing that young Americans care more about smartphones t...

One obvious way to court the millennial demo is through social media.
During a fiery keynote speech on a Wednesday morning, Michael Accavitti, svp of automotive operations for Honda, referenced a socially-led campaign the company executed this past summer centered on the theme of saving American drive-in movie theaters.
Accavitti also showed clips showcasing Acura’s product placement in Jerry Seinfeld’s Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, as well a two-minute Web video spot for Honda Civic featuring Nick Cannon (which has reached 2.5 million viewers and generated 70 million impressions) as examples of how the brand is targeting the young digital demo.
“We have to figure out how to target millennials, and this increasingly multicultural demographic,” he said. “And we have to try things that might not work.”
But perhaps tellingly, the culmination of Honda’a social campaign for drive-ins was a warm and fuzzy TV spot. And Accavitti showed four other heart-string-tugging TV spots during his keynote, exhibiting that for all the talk of mobile and social, Honda’s bread and butter is still old-fashioned national TV.