Your Official Guide
To Creating An Inventory Marketing Strategy
4 Inventory Marketing Strategies to More Effectively Reach Your Audience
As a dealer, your inventory is always changing. Between inventory counts, pricing, incentives and rate changes, it’s amazing you can keep up with it at all, let alone promote it effectively.
At Hoot, our goal is to help dealers transform their inventory into powerful, dynamic ad campaigns. With that in mind, we developed this guide to creating an effective inventory marketing strategy.
We have outlined four effortless marketing tactics (plus one bonus) you can use to make sure you are showing the right products – to the right people – in the right place – at the right time.
It sounds complicated, but we promise it’s not. Part of our mission is making things as quick, easy and painless as possible.
Short on time or want to jump ahead?
Here is a quick overview of what we will be covering. Everything is grouped by ad type to keep it all organized.
Search Ad Strategies:
With a focus on Google and Bing, we believe this is the foundation of your inventory marketing strategy. If you are not running dynamic search ads for your inventory, stop now and give us a call!
Display Ad Strategies:
While display advertising can be a little complex, we try to break this down and make it as simple as possible. Often maligned due to misplaced expectations, display ads can be a powerful way to cultivate and influence a new audience of car shoppers. Especially with retargeting, every marketing strategy should leverage first-party data to drive repeat shoppers.
Video Ad Strategies:
The future of your inventory marketing strategy lies in video ads. With the flexibility of programmatic buying and the power of video, you can target, connect and engage with your prospects and customers like never before. Expensive, time consuming ad production is a thing of the past. Now you can automatically create and run hundreds of new high quality, custom ads every single day!
Facebook Ad Strategies:
An audience and ad platform all to itself, Facebook provides many unique engagement and targeting options that allow you to connect with your prospects. It’s also very cost effective. With dynamic display and video capabilities, you can take your inventory marketing game to a whole new level.
Here is a quick overview of what we will NOT be covering:
There are many other ways you can sell vehicles using inventory feeds (listing sites, auction sites, classified networks, etc.), but for the immediate purpose of this guide, we want to focus on strategies that allow for dynamic, customized ads. That said, be on the lookout for more as we add to this guide in the future.
1. Dynamic Paid Search
This is a must-have for your inventory marketing strategy. A key building block. With Paid Search, the consumer generates the demand by searching for your inventory, all you have to do is provide the ad. With this strategy, you can deliver massive amounts of qualified shoppers to your inventory. This is a year-round strategy – in good times and bad. The important thing to note is that you only pay after someone clicks on your ad. You pick the geography and the keywords you want to bid on, and then build campaigns and ads around your target audiences. You can be very specific or very broad depending on your goals and budget. So, as long as your campaigns are set up correctly, this should be quality traffic.
This is the 800-lb. gorilla. Just based on sheer search volume, this is where you want to start. Depending on your goals and budget, you can expand if needed.
The volume isn’t here, but if you have maxed out impressions on new cars, for example, start a campaign in Bing to add some supplemental traffic. Also consider demographics, as Bing tends to skew a little older.
Static Search Ads:
These are the basic text ads that are displayed on search results pages, usually taking the top three to four positions. Once created, these ads remain the same.
Dynamic Search Ads:
Similar to static ads, Dynamic Search Ads include custom elements called parameters that allow for dynamic changes within the ads, including copy, vehicle counts and lowest prices.
Responsive Search Ads:
RSAs allow you to enter multiple versions of headlines and ad copy (15 and four variations, respectively) for Google to select the best performers to display to users.
Retargeting List Search Ads:
RLSAs are search ads for people who have already visited your site. If someone visited your site but didn’t convert, you can serve them a custom ad based on the vehicles they viewed.
Create campaigns for every vehicle, and ad groups for year, trim, color, features and buying questions. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but this ensures your ads match the search terms as closely as possible, and your landing pages match the ads. This creates the best user experience and ensures you mitigate wasted spend. This strategy is most effective when paired with retargeting.
How Hoot Helps: With Hoot’s automation tools, we can help you set up and monitor your Google Ads Campaigns so only your in-stock inventory shows up in search results. We can even help you create custom inventory filters and automated ad parameters like inventory count and price.
2. Display Ads
Display advertising involves targeting individuals and serving ads to them, either on websites or apps, based on their interests or previous activity. By understanding our customers and their need for our products, we can determine who is most likely to buy based on their behavior. As you navigate through life (on and offline) data is collected on everything you do and a record is kept. These records are used to create “buckets” of people that we can then serve ads to. If it sounds creepy, it is, and that’s why you have probably heard a lot of chatter about privacy, cookies, and third-party data lately. So while this landscape is ever-changing, it is also very effective. See for yourself. The next time you hit the internet be aware of the ads you are served and see how targeted they are.
These include geographics, demographics, age, gender, and so on.
These audiences are generated based on, well, behavior. Typically behavioral data is third-party generated and can have varying degrees of quality. This can span from very broad, to very, very detailed and can include topics, interests, in-market, affinity, etc.
This is another behavioral audience, but a much more specific one. These are users who have visited and engaged with your website to varying degrees. The key to retargeting data is that it is first-party data, meaning you are the source, and thus the quality is much better. You know a lot about these individuals which allows you to serve more customized ads.
The Google Display Network (GDN):
The GDN is an ad network of sites and apps. It is relatively user-friendly, easy to use, and you can start with any budget. Additionally, you have a lot of options when it comes to bidding strategies. It is also subject to Google’s rules, whims and lack of transparency.
Programmatic Ad Buying:
This is where you would use a Demand Side Platform (DSP) to access and buy ad placements across multiple ad networks, including the GDN. Programmatic ad buying offers much more control and targeting. For instance, if you wanted to target mountain bikers who searched for trails in Colorado last week and have the cargurus.com app installed, you could do that! This is typically for an intermediate to expert level media buyer and often requires higher minimum budget levels. If there is one drawback, it would be the limits to bid strategies, with only versions of CPM as an option.
There are more ad sizes than worth mentioning, but only five you should be concerned with:
- Medium Rectangle (300×250)
- Large Rectangle (336×280)
- Leaderboard (728×90)
- Half Page (300×600)
- Large Mobile Banner (320×100)
The most basic type of display ad. It has one version and does not change.
With this ad type, you load copy and image versions, and Google will fit the best ad for the publisher. These tend to be more native.
The most effective of the three, these ads include dynamic content and/or motion to attract attention and engagement.
When possible, always use dynamic ads and tailor your ad creative to the audience. The more specific, the better. With Behavioral Ads, try to match the content of your ad to the context of the page. With retargeting, always show the vehicles they looked at, plus similar options.
How Hoot Helps: With Hoot’s automation tools, we can help you create custom inventory filters to match your audience targeting so every ad and every landing page matches your message and intent. We can automatically create dynamic product catalogue ads that show the specific pages or products viewed, as well as make additional suggestions. ADDED BONUS: Our System automatically identifies and excludes products without custom pictures.
You Are Halfway There.
If you’re tired of reading and ready to see Hoot in action, just tag us in and we can show you how easy it all can be.
3. Video Ads
On YouTube alone, 1 billion videos and 500 million hours of content will be watched TODAY. That means someone, at this very moment, is searching for information about every product you have. Video marketing is by far the most powerful way to engage current and future customers with your dealership. Your options are only limited by your imagination.
Behavioral & Retargeting:
With video, you have the same audience, targeting and retargeting capabilities as display ads.
YouTube offers you two effective ways to promote your inventory. The first is creating organic videos for your channel. Having a video for every product in your inventory can be a powerful tool that you can use in a variety of ways. The second method is purchasing ad placement through the GDN.
As with display, you have the ability to buy video ad placements across multiple ad networks using DSPs. In addition to the websites and apps, you will also have access to some streaming content.
The Difference Between CTV & OTT
Connected TV (CTV)
This refers to any television used to stream video over the internet via an onscreen media platform. These are most often videos that are streamed via apps downloaded from a TV app store. There are two types of devices that are commonly classified as CTV devices:
- Smart TVs: Any television that can connect to the internet and has built-in streaming apps
- Connected Devices: Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and gaming consoles (Nintendo, Xbox & Playstation)
This refers to streaming TV content because it’s circumventing traditional cable and satellite subscriptions to deliver video content. OTT content is delivered from streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, HBO Now, Disney+, Sling, YouTube TV, and Amazon Video, among others.
With online video, the variety of options when it comes to ad length are almost endless. You can create ads anywhere from six seconds to 30 minutes.
While there are plenty of different ad content types, we are only going to focus on three for auto dealers.
This is a video that is created for one or two vehicles. After it is created, it does not change. It is run over the course of the media flight (usually one month) and discarded at the end of the schedule.
Dynamic Asset Ads:
With 100% focus on the product and the price, these are ad templates that are created and updated daily with new inventory and prices.
Dynamic Companion Ads:
These ads split focus between the product, price, and the dealership or an on-screen personality. The inventory and pricing are dynamically updated on a daily basis to match the targeted audience.
Dynamic Companion Ads are by far the best performing. They add personality to the customization that creates exceptional levels of engagement.
How Hoot Helps: As with your display campaigns, Hoot’s automation tools can automatically create Video Ads with custom inventory feeds to match your audience targeting so every ad and every landing page matches your message and intent. We can also integrate with your DSP to automatically create and feed dynamic product catalogue ads that show the specific vehicles you want in every ad.
4. Facebook Ads
Facebook is truly an entity unto itself. With a built-in audience, different ad types, options, targeting, and rules, we have separated it from other ad strategies. If audience size alone isn’t enough to make Facebook an important option for your overall inventory marketing strategy, consider the targeting capabilities. Facebook knows more about us than we know about ourselves, and it remembers everything.
Behavioral & Retargeting:
Just like display and video, you can utilize audience types here.
An additional ad type you can use on Facebook is email targeting. If you have a customer or prospect email list, try matching it to Facebook as an additional audience.
Facebook’s ad types have two components: Objectives and Types. First, you choose your goal and then the ad format that best suits that goal.
Awareness: This comes down to reach and frequency.
Consideration: This can include traffic, engagement, video views, messages, and leads.
Conversions: These are categorized as sales and in-store visits.
Image Ads: These contain static images and only 20% text.
Video Ads: Pretty straight forward here. The key to success is adding captions to these ads, as more than 80% are viewed without sound.
Carousel Ads: Showcase up to 10 images or videos in a single ad, each with its own link.
Instant Experience: This is a fullscreen experience that opens after someone taps your ad on a mobile device. Create an Instant Experience to visually highlight your brand, products or services.
Collection Ads: The collection format features multiple products and opens as an Instant Experience when someone interacts with it. Your customers can discover, browse and purchase products from their phones in a visual and immersive way.
Lead Ads: Using a variety of the options above, you can capture a customer’s information in Facebook.
Because there are so many different ad formats, we can only concentrate on a few here. We recommend you first use video. There are millions of hours of video watched on Facebook. Take advantage of that. Second, utilize lead ads, but focus on quality over quantity.
How Hoot Helps: Hoot’s automation tools can create custom inventory feeds and push them directly into the Facebook ads manager to automatically create dynamic product catalogue ads that show the specific vehicles you want in every ad.
Bonus: Facebook Marketplace
FBMP is really an ad platform within a platform, so it gets its own section. Incredibly easy to add your inventory and very inexpensive, FBMP is a great supplement to any inventory marketing campaign, and with Facebook’s audience size, you don’t want to miss out. You can also run ads in Marketplace to compliment your inventory.
Search, Behavioral & Retargeting
See Facebook Ads Objectives and Formats.
Just like you can boost a post on your Facebook Page, you can do the same for your listings. This is a great way to get some extra visibility for particular opportunity vehicles on your lot.
With FBMP, you get out what you put into it. The most important thing is to commit to having someone answer the leads. Facebook will truncate phone numbers and emails put into descriptions. If you can’t dedicate a person to the leads, hire a chat company. You can expect about 15 to 20 leads per 100 cars. Not a bad return considering the cost.
How Hoot Helps: As a Facebook Marketplace Inventory Partner, we can help you dynamically and automatically push your inventory into FBMP, along with 10 pictures for every vehicle. KEY BENEFIT: with our image recognition software, you can be sure that only pictured vehicles will be added to the feed.
Need Help Implementing These Tactics?
If you have any questions about how to take the next steps with any of these strategies or tactics, our team is here and ready to get your inventory marketing campaign kicked off as soon as tomorrow.
Is That It?
Hardly. We are just getting warmed up. We will consistently be updating and sharing other inventory marketing opportunities and strategies as we research the best way to leverage them. Also, be on the lookout for in-depth guides for each of these individual strategies.
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