Maximizing Automotive In-Market Targeting: Part II

BACKGROUND

In Part I of this study we used qualitative consumer survey data and quantitative third-party auto site data to demonstrate the impact of blending behavioral and contextual targeting for maximum effectiveness when marketing to auto shoppers. When embarking on Part 2, our objective was to close the loop on this discussion by adding in qualified marketer-defined metrics to exhibit the success of this strategy.

There is unquestionable growth in the acceptance and effectiveness of Behavioral Targeting (BT) as a display advertising strategy. As a mechanism for advertisers to capture finite audiences and message to them in various contexts, it delivers on the promise that internet marketing can distribute ads to finely tuned pre-qualified audiences without waste. And for publishers, the ability to monetize unsold inventory by re-engaging valued audiences for marketers has added new revenue streams and improved inventory yield.

There's also the perception that horizontal ad networks and exchanges have muddied the waters on behaviors and how/where they are obtained and repurposed or repackaged. It's not uncommon that an ad network will sell inventory against a behavior that has exchanged hands 3-5 times before reaching it. This brings into question the value and validity of the behavior, especially when the methodology for collection is not typically determined by the outlet selling it.

In 2005 Jumpstart Automotive Media launched its BT program, the first that was exclusive to the automotive industry. It was unveiled with the intention that marketers needed assurance that the audience was meeting their target criteria of being in-market, engaged, and current. With that Jumpstart's BT product was introduced with complete transparency of the sites it collected data from and the methodology. This new product was also developed without layers of complexity or repackaged behaviors.

It was initially sold as a stand-alone product to marketers as an opportunity to reach specific types of consumers ranging from a new car shopper to a more specific category or model shopper (i.e. Crossover or Ford Escape), which mimicked the contextual marketing options that Jumpstart was delivering to manufacturers, dealers and dealer groups.

With some in-depth research and observation of recurring themes, a defining moment was achieved in 2008 that offered marketers a more robust solution with BT as opposed to simply offering up more inventory. This moment was validated when Jumpstart embarked on a study with the goal of changing automotive marketers' perceptions of BT as a tactic that is independent of any other display advertising approach. The study, Maximizing Automotive In-Market Targeting: A study on the effectiveness of Behavioral and Contextual targeting as a cohesive strategy was released in April 2009.

It achieved the aforementioned goal by accentuating the strength of this blended targeting approach through a series of consumer surveys regarding perceptions of two auto manufacturer brands. The survey results show the difference between consumers who had seen ads from the marketers only in a contextual environment, and those who had been exposed to ads from the marketers both contextually and behaviorally.

In each case — whether it was simple awareness, various brand perceptions, or even purchase intent — the consumers exposed to the marketers' message in both scenarios had markedly stronger perceptions of the brands. (See Table 1.1)

Table 1.1 Results from the first "Maximizing Automotive In-Market Targeting" Study

BRAND METRIC RESULTS

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BRAND PERCEPTION RESULTS

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While most of the results of the In-Market Targeting study centered on consumer surveys, the analysis in this new study takes into account marketer specific key performance indicators that were measured and analyzed via the marketer's ad tracking tool.

What the 2008 study didn't contain in marketer-defined results is uncovered here with an OEM advertiser that has reaped the benefits of employing this blended targeting approach. Both this and the 2008 study provide considerable evidence that BT or contextual targeting delivered in a silo is less effective for automotive marketers than the two in tandem.

STUDY OBJECTIVES

  • To accentuate how combining contextual and behavioral targeting amplifies message impact and frequency, driving improved results and engagement.
  • To break down silos created industry wide that call for separate media buying strategies for contextual and behavioral targeting.
  • To bring to light the original intention of BT as a truly efficient targeting mechanism to a valuable, identifiable audience and move beyond the muddied waters of BT created over the past few years.

METHODOLOGY

  • Review spotlight data from Jumpstart campaigns from OEM websites to follow patterns in success metrics as standardized and determined by the OEM and its agency.
  • Analyze the data over a 6 month period.

HIGHLIGHTS OF RESULTS

  • 122% increase in total volume of key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • 26% decrease in cost per KPI
  • 15% increase in KPIs/impression
  • 1.33:1 ratio of KPIs to new impressions purchased

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS IMPROVE WITH ADDITION OF BT

Most auto manufacturers and their agencies set clear standards for the performance of their in market media buys, typically with an intense focus on low funnel activities that occur on the OEM website like request a brochure, schedule a test drive, request a quote, and others.

In 2009, Jumpstart collaborated with one of its OEM clients to improve its reach of a highly qualified audience by employing the blended BT and contextual targeting method. In 2008 the marketer had only focused its efforts on reaching the Jumpstart audience in a contextual environment. The new approach provided the manufacturer an enhanced messaging platform against the most engaged shoppers, allowing it to communicate with these users on automotive research pages as well as other in market and general interest site pages.

The BT/Contextual approach also afforded Jumpstart the opportunity to optimize performance across its network of BT publishers, shifting weight to properties and categories that performed more effectively. Another benefit was the ability to implement adjustments to the campaign (like frequency capping and creative size optimization) while it was still running.

By utilizing these benefits, the OEM saw substantial lifts in KPI performance, including 122% more KPIs in Q109 compared to Q408 (nearly 235,000 more KPIs) when only contextual targeting was employed, as well as a 15%improvement in KPIs per impression — the ratio of KPIs to impressions — ,and a 26% decrease in cost per KPI.

For the blended targeting approach the marketer purchased 92% more inventory than the previous quarter of only contextual impressions, however the 92% increase in inventory yielded 122% more KPIs. This represents a 1.33:1 ratio of KPIs to new impressions purchased, further emphasizing the value of this blended approach to reaching the right audience (See Tables 2.1 and 2.2).

Optimization Mechanisms:

  • Frequency optimization
  • Balance of BT vs. Contextual
  • Site extension optimization
  • Creative size optimization

Table 2.1 Marketer's Increase in total KPIs and KPIs per Impression Q109 vs. Q408

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Table 2.2 Marketer's decrease in Cost Per KPI Q109 vs. Q408

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SUMMARY

  • The blended Contextual/Behavioral targeting solution drove vast improvements in KPIs and media efficiency, two major factors in the marketing efforts of all automakers today.
  • The benefits of extending reach against the OEM's most coveted shoppers by utilizing contextual and behavioral targeting in tandem include improved media performance and efficiency.
  • Adding the BT element allowed Jumpstart to optimize performance using mechanisms unavailable with only a contextual campaign.

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