Rear view of luxury car

Live Video Walkarounds: Are they Worth the Effort?

by Tim James

While most forms of digital marketing offer some value to dealers, the one constant has – and always will be – the better your inventory merchandising, the higher your sales.

In the digital world, your merchandising takes place on your VDP Pages, making your VDP Pages one of (if not “the”) most valuable pieces of digital real estate that you have today. The goal of the merchandising on your VDP Pages is to get a consumer emotionally attached to the vehicle, to take “mental ownership.” Or, at a minimum, to generate enough interest that the shopper will come to your store and take a test drive. If you can’t obtain one of these goals, then you hope that your presentation of the vehicle at least had a large enough impact on the shopper that they will remember one of your vehicles as they continue their shopping and bounce from site to site.

This is why you invest the time and/or money into your current digital marketing strategy: You have a website that gets good traffic and that has good flow to the Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs); pay 3rd parties for VDPs on their sites; have high quality photos for each vehicle on its VDP; use a good quality vehicle description for each vehicle; and even have all kinds of “conversion widgets” and such on your VDP Pages. You know how important your VDP Pages are. And you currently invest a lot of time and money into your efforts to have the “best” presentation of your vehicles as possible on those VDPs.

Now, up to this point, I haven’t told you anything that you don’t already know. But let’s consider this:

• People retain 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and an amazing 70% of what they see & hear combined. This means that a shopper is at least 40% more likely to form an emotional attachment and remember “your” inventory if they are able to watch videos of the vehicles on your VDPs.

• More than 85% of today’s consumer’s say that they prefer product video over photos and a text based product description. Shoppers are significantly more likely to spend a greater amount of time on your VDPs — and more likely to return to YOUR website at a future time — if they know that they can receive their content the in the form in which they desire to receive it…video.

• Live Inventory Videos average 600% more engagement than stitched photo videos. This means that having a stitched photo video is better than not having a video at all; however, you will receive a significant boost in engagement if you are utilizing live inventory videos. This IS the best presentation of your vehicles (merchandising) possible for your VDPs.

The actual process of shooting a live inventory video only takes around 2 to 5 minutes per vehicle. Yes, it may take you a little longer in the beginning, when you first start shooting the videos, and before you are comfortable with the process. But, after you’ve shot a few, you should easily be able to get your process down to the 2 to 5 minute range. The actual process of shooting a live video is hardly an overwhelming investment of time, especially when considering the engagement and conversion benefits.

What DOES take time is everything else. You have to manually upload the video to a “host” (or multiple hosts), rename every file as you upload it, and then manually process the video URL to each location that you would like for the video to play. I’m sure there are plenty of you reading this who remember the days that this same “time consuming” process was at one time true for your photos. Shooting the photos was the easy part, but to get your photos to all of the various digital touch-points, you had to manually rename them and upload them touch-point by touch-point. Instead, many dealerships would either choose to not keep their photos current on the various digital touch-points, to outsource the photo process to a 3rd party, or would hire an in-house staff to do nothing but shoot and upload photos all day. As time progressed, and as dealerships started to realize how important the photos were to the merchandising process, more and more started investing in technology that made the upload and distribution process fast and easy. They still had to have someone shoot their photos, but that’s all they had to do and technology took care of the rest.

The great news is that this same technology now exists for your videos. All someone has to do is shoot the video (2 to 5 minutes) and technology will automatically name, upload, and distribute the videos for you (and often in real-time). In fact, you can even have your photographer shoot the video for you at the same time they are shooting their photos. And if you aren’t comfortable with your photographer talking about the vehicles while shooting the videos, then technology can even automatically add the audio layer to the video as it is being automatically uploaded. And you could even have one of your Sales or BDC Team members (from the comfort of their own office) re-record the audio layer of the video and instantly replace the automated audio layer on all of the digital touch-points (in real-time), if so desired. No more wind or highway noises, no airplanes flying overhead, and no worrying about the weather.

Even greater news is that these same videos can then also be utilized by your sales team and/or BDC team for personalized walkaround videos for lead responses. Instead of the time consuming, over and over process of shooting one video that would be seen by one person, of checking out the keys, finding the vehicle on the lot (in the heat, cold, rain, snow), pulling the vehicle out of the line, shooting the video, parking the vehicle, walking back inside, checking in the keys, uploading the video to a “host”, grabbing the URL and sending the video URL out in an email…the sales or BDC team member can now simply pull up the existing video (being used on the VDPs), re-record a personalized message as the audio, add background music (if desired), click save, and email out…all in less time than it takes to check out the keys and find the vehicle on the lot.

We used to find all kinds of excuses for why we didn’t keep our VDPs (across all of the digital touch-points) updated each day with 25, 35, 55+ photos. Excuses ranged from “it’s too much work” to “it costs too much money (if outsourced).” And I’m sure you can find plenty of new excuses as to why you aren’t shooting live videos for your VDPs and using walkaround videos for your lead responses…but the fact is that “it’s too much work,” is no longer a valid excuse, especially when you consider the impact that it will have on your sales.

White laptop and dollars

Consumers Like Video So Much They’re Paying More To Watch It

by Tim James

Video, and especially mobile video, is fast becoming the media of choice for consumers of all ages. From the cable-free movie, to online streaming services, to the latest and greatest phone apps storming the scene, we are all consuming data at a record pace. According to a white paper by Cisco, mobile data has increased in size nearly 30 times since the year 2000. And mobile video accounts for 55 percent of all data traffic.

Today, consumers are increasing data plans with their cellular phone companies so as to consume more video – and they’re doing so willingly — according to a recent article on Mashable. The article reports the massive growth of the mobile live-streaming app, Meerkat. With Twitter entering the live-streaming market Monday via their recent acquisition of Periscope, smartphone users are finding more ways to share video with each other than ever before. In fact, in less than 24 hours, Periscope broke into the top 50 apps on the iTunes app store illustrating the remarkable demand for video content. And, according to the article, “wireless carriers have invested more the $1 trillion in the last few years to build out networks capable of serving massive amounts of data and high speeds.”

And as far as video itself — Almost every major social media application has integrated video into their platforms. Why? Because that’s what their users want. Videos are given more organic reach on Facebook. Platforms are opening up their APIs to allow for video embedding. User-generated video content is exploding. And consumers have made it very clear that they like video content so much that they are willing to increase their cellular phone budgets so as to consume more of it. If this is the case, then why not market to them in their format of choice?

Back in the day, most people read physical newspapers and watched local television… and that’s where car dealers advertised. For lack of subscribers, newspapers moved online, or went out of business. And then, as streaming video services became a more popular (and less expensive) alternative, people started ditching cable.

None of us knows what the future will bring. Change will come, but we don’t know what or when. All we do know for certain is that right now… video is where consumers have placed their attention. And not just video, but especially in mobile format. If only for that single reason, that’s the content car dealers should be producing. Take a look at your marketing and see how you can improve on your video content. It would also be wise to ensure that your web content and any video is mobile ready, so this new generation of consumers can access and even share your content.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 7.33.10 AM

Jameson Irish Whiskey Takes Video Marketing to the Next Level

by Brian Cox

Jameson Irish Whiskey has taken video marketing on Instagram to another level – “the first brand to successfully utilize 3D video for advertisements on Instagram and Facebook,” according to a recent article in the Independent.

The video itself is very simple, and suggests that you slide a shot to your friend. It then proceeds to slide a shot glass of whiskey towards you, the viewer, which then appears to come off the page. It’s rather clever how they were able to create the illusion of 3D on a non-3D platform.

 

Slide this shot of Jameson to your drinking buddy #LongLiveTheShot

A video posted by Jameson Whiskey (@jameson_us) on

 

According to many studies, brands are increasing their content marketing budgets to include more video marketing. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are going to war to become the World’s premier video platforms, something that YouTube has enjoyed for years.

As is the case with any marketing, the ability for advertisers to cut through the noise with video marketing will continue to increase in importance. In addition, marketers should not rely on a single platform to host their videos. Regardless of who ends up winning this battle for viewership, consumers will still have their preferences. Believe it or not, some people still use MySpace, and other platforms that many abandoned long ago. This is why it’s important to ensure that your content is on all of the sites YOUR consumers visit. You never know where your next sale will begin their journey. Bear in mind, however, that to accomplish this you will either need spend a lot of time posting your video to each individual site. Or you can go the route of automation to get it done more efficiently.

Successful video marketing today demands entertaining and creative video that engages your audience. It’s not simply about having video content; it’s having the right video content. That can only be accomplished with a solid strategy that’s executed consistently.

Even a micro-video should have the same concepts behind its creation – creative, outside the box thinking – it should be engaging. What makes these type of videos a success is not any different from the winning formula for any videos — whether it be a “Why Buy from Me,” company culture-type video, or a vehicle walk-around video.

You only have a short period of time to catch and keep a consumer’s attention. Make sure that you use that time wisely and you’ll find an increase in views and conversions.

House of cards

Don’t Let Your “House Of Cards” Get Knocked Down By Your Competition

by Tim James

“We work too hard to come within arm’s reach of the prize only to have our hands cut off just before we seize it. For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there is but one rule – hunt or be hunted.” – Frank Underwood, as played by Kevin Spacey in the Netflix television series, House of Cards.

This quote epitomizes the struggle that car dealers face daily – whether they are trying to close a deal, struggling with a vendor or battling their competitors. However, that quote also contains valuable advice. To succeed in this industry – whether you’re a dealer or a vendor – you face daily challenges throughout every aspect of your business. These range from acquiring new business, to providing exceptional customer service, to the day- to-day management of your employees. You must not stall your efforts before you reach your prize, as there is always someone breathing down your neck just waiting to snatch it before you can.

There are a lot of pieces that comprise the puzzle that, when completed, leads to success. Company culture, efficient processes, training, and customer loyalty, are some of the foundations that no business can survive without. Dealers rely on their managers, managers rely on their employees. One weak link can wreak havoc within an organization and result in a lost sale, a lost (valuable) employee, or worse – a lost customer.

If you’ve ever built a house of cards in real life, you know that they take patience, a steady hand, a strategy and that every card is dependent on the other. Just like building a house of cards, all of these things are necessary to succeed. And each level in the house needs to be sturdy and well thought out. For, if they’re not, the house will fail to reach the height it is capable of and will probably come crashing down for you to rebuild.

The first level will always be your staff – from the dealer to the porter. They are the foundation. Each subsequent level comprises of an additional component from administration, service, marketing, technology, and sales. And each of these components brings something to your table to assist you in climbing to the top of the food chain in our industry. It is important to have a strategy, have patience and put any plans in place with a steady hand. Failure in any of these areas could very well prevent your organization from achieving its full potential.

Pay attention to trends. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Watch what your competition is doing, but don’t chase after shiny new objects just because your competition is doing it. Your success isn’t dependent on you doing the same things that your competition is doing, it’s dependent on you going above and beyond your competition, creating an entirely higher standard of expectation for your prospects and your customers. This is the effort required to become the best, and equally required to stay the best, and keep your house of cards from falling down.

DS1

How A Dog May Have Just Reinvented Pre-Roll Video Ads

by Brian Cox

We all know how annoying pre-roll video ads can be – especially when they have nothing to do with the video content we’re about to watch. Many people hover their mouse cursor over the countdown just itching to click “Skip Ad” the second that option is available. As reported by USA Today, the insurance company Geico, may have found a way to keep people around to watch.

In a nutshell, Geico used only the first 5 seconds (the amount of time someone would have to watch before the “Skip Ad” option appears) and stated, “You can’t skip this Geico ad because it’s already over.” In the background a family acts as if they are frozen in time at the dinner table. On screen is a dog that then proceeds to eat everything on the table while the actors stay as frozen as possible (although you can tell that they aren’t). It’s actually very well done and pretty amusing. The trick is that the Geico logo is on screen the whole time so, in essence, you’re watching the whole ad. The article reports that, on March 3, the ad had “logged more than 725,000 unaided YouTube videos in one day.” That’s pretty incredible.

The reason this ad is seeing so much success is simple. It is one that every dealer or marketer should take note of – they had a strategy. The producers of the ad, the Martin Agency, knew they faced the same challenges and had to solve the same problem that every other company utilizing pre-roll video does – How to stop people from clicking “Skip Ad.” Most companies fail this challenge as not many of these pre-roll video ads tempt anyone to stick around and watch.

So, rather than try to answer the question which most marketers have been unable to, they chose to think outside-the-box. With just 5 seconds to convince people not to click “Skip Ad,” rather than putting the meat and potatoes of the ad AFTER those five seconds, (which is how most traditional pre-roll is organized), they chose to put it BEFORE.

Then they got creative…

What would make someone continue to watch an ad – that’s not supposed to be an ad – after the “Skip Ad” option appeared? From the buzz this has generated, it would seem that a dog having a good old time tearing up everyone’s dinner from atop the table was a winning formula.

I suspect that the success of this campaign will cause other companies to start using those five seconds in other creative ways. The important thing to remember is that simply throwing video onto the Internet is not effective – and it’s not video marketing. Without a strategy in place to make your video marketing efforts successful, you may just be wasting your time.

Laptop with reel

Marketing Trends Illustrate the Importance of Video

by Tim James

If you still aren’t sold on the importance of video marketing, it only takes a brief glimpse into recent news to illustrate just how important video is in marketing. There are many news stories relating to acquisitions, statistics and trends, which highlight the increasing importance – and value – that platforms of all kinds are placing on video content. The common thread that exists throughout all of these stories is companies recognize consumers have a strong desire to view video content and are positioning themselves to be able to serve that up.

Consider these recent stories:

  • Facebook videos are now receiving 3 BILLION views per day. Facebook is all about relevance. It wants to serve up content that its users want to see. A recent report by social media company, SocialBakers, reported that video posts surpassed all other types of content with the highest organic reach as well as highest fan reach. In addition, Facebook gives videos that are directly uploaded to their site more organic reach than videos shared via link from YouTube. This is in an effort to boost its own video platform. Facebook has even begun to solicit celebrities and large media companies to upload their videos straight to Facebook, rather than YouTube or other platforms.
  • Twitter recently renewed its agreement with Google to allow access to Twitter’s data stream. Since their breakup in 2011, Google has had to scrape Twitter in order to serve up tweets in search results. With this new agreement in place, Google can now index Twitter content in real-time providing more SEO benefits for Twitter content. Seeing as Twitter recently added a feature allowing video tweets, it’s entirely possible that Google could serve up your tweeted videos in real-time search results.
  • Last November, in order to deliver better video ads across its many properties, Yahoo acquired BrightRoll, a video ad delivery platform, for $640 million. One month later, they acquired Evntlive and Ptch, both of which cater to the video content industry and, according to many sources, made them the largest video platform in the United States.
  • Even AOL has been bolstering its video capabilities with the acquisition of three video marketing companies in the past 5 years –the 5Min video platform for $65 million in 2010, Adap.tv for $405 million in 2013 and, most recently, Vidible in December, for an estimated $50 million.
  • There has also been a plethora of video sharing apps emerging in the last few years such as Vine – which ultimately partnered with Twitter – and Instagram, which added a video sharing feature and was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion.
  • And last, but far from least, we have the largest player of them all – Google – which acquired YouTube way back in 2006, and has grown it into the second largest search engine in the world. It is currently racing Apple to become the first company to be valued at $1 trillion.

This is just a small sample of the investments major companies are making in video. It shows the importance successful businesses are placing on video content. And, I would say, a strong belief that video content is the future. I highly doubt anyone could argue against the fact that these companies know what they’re doing, simply based on their combined net value of $1.3 trillion. If all these companies were joined into one country, this humungous sum of money would place it at number 16 out of all 194 countries in the world.

I’d say they know what they’re doing.

Hispanic family shopping online

As Hispanics buy more cars, stores add videos in Spanish

Eighteen months ago, Coast Nissan in San Luis Obispo, Calif., introduced Spanish-language videos with each car posted online.

General Manager Eric Ideman said it was a response to two trends:

•  His customer base along the central coast is heavily Hispanic, with many speaking only Spanish or preferring to communicate in the language.

•  Data showed increasing numbers of online vehicle-shoppers watching car videos.

“We have lot of people searching [for cars] in Spanish,” Ideman said. “We wanted to make sure they could get their videos in Spanish, too.”

Hispanics account for an increasing percentage of car purchases nationally, causing dealerships across the country to reassess how they market to the demographic, according to Eley Duke III, vice president of Duke Automotive (Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac) in Suffolk, Va.

The videos at Coast Nissan and sister store Coast BMW appear as links on the Web pages of specific vehicles. They are for new and used vehicles. And they are either vehicle walk-around videos or a series of still photos spliced together with voice-over.

Duke said the area has a small Hispanic population nearby. But, he said, he added Spanish-language videos in December to the inventory he shows on the dealership website and social media feeds because he doesn’t want to lose a single sale to a language barrier.

Duke, like Coast Nissan, added the videos at the recommendation of one of its digital ad agencies, ZMOT Auto. The agency recently announced a deal with inventory video maker Flick Fusion to provide Spanish-language voice-overs to Flick Fusion’s videos.

In 2014, Hispanics accounted for 12 percent of retail vehicle registrations minus fleet and commercial vehicles, according to IHS Automotive. The number was 9.3 percent in 2010, according to Marc Bland, IHS Automotive vice president of diversity and inclusion. “If an automotive brand is looking for growth, there’s no better place to look than the ethnic consumer — with Hispanics leading the way,” Bland said.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that Hispanics, who numbered 52 million in the country in July 2011, or 17 percent of the population, will account for 30 percent of the population by 2050.

Duke said video-watching also is on the rise among car shoppers. “Videos are such a big part of a visual society,” he said.

According to Google’s “Digital Drives Auto Shopping” study published in November 2013, more than half of auto shoppers watch 30 minutes or more of video during their shopping journeys. Moreover, one in four watched an hour or more, the study found.

In recognition of those trends, Coast Nissan is offering all of its online inventory with videos in English and Spanish, Ideman said.

The store is not as close to heavy Hispanic foot traffic as some competitors, he said. So Coast Nissan also is ensuring that its paid search ads, blogs, chat and website content are in Spanish, too, so those customers can find and interact easily in either English or Spanish, he said.

It isn’t good enough, Ideman said, to get an online lead or phone call from Spanish-speaking customers and make them wait for a response until the store can get a bilingual salesperson to contact them.

“People want an immediate response, or they go away,” he said.

Coast Nissan sells about 80 vehicles per month split evenly between new and used.

Of the store’s six salespeople, four are bilingual. And so is Coast Nissan’s finance director, who is responsible for closing deals in finance and insurance.

Ideman said, “We want to hold them all the way through the transaction.”

Written by David Barkholz [Originally published 2/16 on Automotive News]