30 Apr


Did the Digital Dealer Conference Find a New Home in Tampa?


DD18 Logo

DD18 Tampa Convention Center


My DD18 Summary


Just returning from my visit to the 18th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition in Tampa, my first event as a 3 Birds rep. Got to say, this was one of my favorite recent DD conference experiences.

For starters, the location was a real winner! Compared to the backlash of Atlantic City a year ago, Tampa was a home run, especially since, as Mike Roscoe the conference founder pointed out, “it did not rain too much and make coming and going a wet one.”

Based on conversations I had with dealers and exhibitors, people were consistently happy with the location for multiple reasons…


The surrounding area was nice!

The district where the convention center is located is pedestrian-friendly and not congested with traffic. The downtown feel combined with water views and the Riverwalk give the area unique character.


There was water and boats and docks and piers!

Water is always good, something that Vegas and Orlando, both regular locations, do not offer. The small harbor and channels provided a relaxed and scenic atmosphere with all the venues scattered around.


There was a great selection of nice hotels!

Embassy Suites was adjacent to the convention center. A Marriott was next door and a Hilton was a 5-minute walk down the street. Each of course with energetic food venues.


There was a good variety of food and entertainment venues!

Beyond the hotels were numerous different venues and cuisines from which to choose. Jackson’s Bistro was a short bridge walk across the water with a lively atmosphere where multiple vendor parties were held. Also nearby were pubs, cantinas, etc., not to mention the tiki bar out front of the convention center.


3 Birds Booth at DD18

A Busy 3 Birds Booth


Education and Exposition

As usual, the event consisted of a meaty selection of educational sessions plus a large but not overwhelming exhibit hall. As an exhibitor I was tied to the booth and not able to partake in the sessions much, but dealer traffic in the exhibit hall was flush between sessions. During the end-of-day cocktail hours you got a feel for the volume of dealers in attendance. In recent DD events I found dealer attendance and energy lower.

There were signs placed in front of each session room prompting attendees to report “pitchy” presentations by sending a text. I am curious to know how many complaints there were. If there is one thing I hear time and again about Digital Dealer is that the sessions are more like sales pitches.

The only way I can see eliminating this from being a problem is by not permitting speakers to discuss a topic related to their product. While this might seem absurd at first, I surmise that it would cause speakers to be more empirical about their topics and audience rather than speaking from an expert mentality.

Just because we sell or represent a product or company does not mean we can’t explore and present other topics. I, like most of us, am constantly trying to expand my knowledge and preparing a presentation does this for you.

Most dealers I spoke with were there for the sessions, not the exhibit. But that of course doesn’t keep them from being in the exhibit hall. At the 3 Birds booth we spoke with several Toyota dealers gaining insights from the digital assessments 3 Birds provides. We also had a lot of biz dev activity going on and gave away 100% of our branded t-shirts and balsa wood airplanes.

The only session I was able to drop in on was Dean Evans’ panel discussion Millennials, Mobile and Moving the Metal with Joe Webb, Subi Ghosh, and Bill Simmons.


Joe and Shaun Karaokethon


Serious Social Networking

Although I am a social creature, it amazes me how much is put into the social events at these conferences, particularly into drinking. Sometimes it seems like pushing your limits each night after a long day of sessions is to be expected. We all know better yet we futilely resist the temptation to “party on!” All in good fun though of course. Besides, what else is there to do?


This time around I hit four events:

The Marchex Kickoff party on Tuesday that rolled into the FlickFusion sponsored party. This simple unassuming cocktail reception was on the second floor of Jackson’s Bistro surrounded by glass walls with a balcony to boot. Hors d’oeuvres were passed around on party trays where dealers and vendors intermingled. Once the alcohol got to my head, I departed.

Following the VIN party was Joe and Shaun’s Karaokethon, a party event that Joe Webb and Shaun Raines have been doing now at Digital Dealer Conferences for years now. I was so busy having a good time there I failed to take any great pictures, but there were some excellent moments.

On Wednesday me and my posse hit the elegant VIN Solutions party in the Florida Room at the Marriott. VIN outdid themselves with gourmet food stations such as an exquisite cheese and fruit station, a seafood station with fried shrimp cocktails, scallops wrapped in bacon, and saffron risotto, a pasta station featuring multiple pasta dishes with rich sauces, a prime rib carver, plus other miscellaneous things to nibble. The music was energetic. There was a small hardly-used dance floor, and a makeshift photo booth where you and your group could try on different party hats and make a film strip of blurred photos.

Although I did not see everyone perform, I was particularly impressed with Mat Koenig’s performance of Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet. Mat Koenig, the purveyor of Buscadordeauto.com, really knocked it out of the park, unlike anyone I have ever seen at a karaoke.


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Overall DD18 was a terrific event and I suspect the conference will return to Tampa before too long. The conference has a ton of credibility with good momentum behind it right now considering that sales in the auto industry are trending up strong and technology, marketing, and advertising continue to evolve at a highly accelerated pace.


Ryan Gerardi and Sara Callahan

Me with Sara Callahan at DD18 in Tampa

Filed Under: Events, Featured


14 Apr


Toyota Partners with 3 Birds Marketing to Help Enhance Dealerships Online



3Birds Partners with Toyota Scion


On the heels of its announcement with Toyota Motor Sales, USA about 3 Birds Marketing partnering to bring “comprehensive technology solutions” to Toyota and Scion dealers nationwide, I am also proud to announce my own partnership with 3 Birds Marketing. That is, that I have agreed to join the 3 Birds team as well.

As a Regional Sales Director I will be responsible for establishing and maintaining key dealer relationships in the Greater Chicago Area and Great Lakes Region. This is exciting for me as I have been steering my career back in to dealer sales for the last year, a place where I got my start in this business nearly 15 years ago selling inventory solutions to auto dealers.

In addition to working directly with local dealers in the areas of Customer Demand Marketing, Loyalty & Engagement, and FixedOps & Retention Marketing, I am also being charged with assisting the marketing arm of 3 Birds with its inbound marketing strategy. This unique hybrid opportunity designed by 3 Birds Co-Founder Layton Judd specifically for me is an honor because it combines everything I have worked towards in the last decade, allowing me to utilize my biz dev, social networking, and email marketing skills to create opportunities for myself and the 3 Birds team as a whole plus grow my own book of business.

Why the 3 Birds Toyota Scion Partnership Matters to Me

The Toyota Scion partnerships is significant too. Over the last two years I have provided numerous Online Marketing Assessments to auto dealers designed to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a dealership’s online presence, specifically on Google and with their Online Reputation and their Social Media. The 3 Birds partnership with Toyota Scion is essentially providing the same type of assessment for Toyota and Scion dealers, but with better tools and deeper insights than I was able to do.

The 3 Birds platform, or Wire 3.0 as it is technically called today, is so advanced and integrated with a dealer’s online marketing efforts that you are literally able to see the customer life cycle through its entirety from Search and Social Media, to Email, to CRM, to DMS with deep reporting and useful consumer insights. I remember when 3 Birds first hit market in 2010 with its smart and nifty email+blog+newsletter program, a solution that accomplished everything I was doing at the time for my dealers, but more efficiently and with better dealership integration.

Here I am five years later ecstatic about the prospect of working with one of the best auto dealer marketing platforms in the business with one of the fastest growing companies in our space. 

For more information about 3 Birds Marketing please visit the 3 Birds website or contact me directly. Of course, since you are here please let me know by dropping me a note in the comments below.

13 Apr


IS20G 7 Event Offers Comprehensive Web + BDC Dealership Assessment





Hard to believe it has been more than six months now since IS20G 6 in Boston, which turned out to be a terrific event with more than 200 dealers in attendance. As before I was responsible for compiling and ranking the dealerships evaluated in the dealership composites which naturally consumed my involvement with the gig, but this time around I also have a speaking slot which will require extra effort on my part.

More to come on the speaking slot though because I am dedicating this post to the composites.

In Boston we evaluated 28 dealerships so it was about 40% more work than normal. We also announced winners of each composite for the first time which will of course be carried through for IS20G 7 in Brooklyn where I am happy to say we are limiting assessments to 20 dealers again.

These dealers are lucky in my opinion. The composite evaluation provides deep insight into key areas of each participating dealership, insight that is easily worth a few thousand dollars if it were to be purchased as a service.

Each assessment is performed by a contributing sponsor (identified below), the data of which is supplied to me for scoring and ranking to determine the winners.


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Be sure to register your dealership today at www.internetsales20group.com and enter my promo code ACIS20G7 for a special discount. By doing so you will not only receive a 10% discount but you will also receive one of my complimentary Online Marketing Assessments as a thank you for attending.

Filed Under: Announcements, Events, Featured

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28 Mar


Dataium Joins Polk with IHS Automotive Acquisition


IHS Automotive Acquires Dataium

What does the acquisition of Datium by IHS Automotive mean for Automotive Online Retail?

Dataium has long been one of my favorite companies. I have written about or referenced Dataium here on this blog more than half a dozen times. To hear news of the company’s acquisition last week by IHS Automotive is of personal interest to me.

When I was first introduced to the company back in 2011 while working with HookLogic, we were partnering with Dataium to integrate data-driven intelligence into the Lead-to-Show product.

The idea was that by cross-referencing with Polk data were able to better understand the shoppers coming into dealer pipelines and automatically trigger incentives to be sent to folks based on specific criteria. I often wondered by Polk and Dataium didn’t work together on things more. Maybe they did?

This is just one of numerous ways in which Dataium can be utilized for automotive online retail.

Every month, Dataium observes more than 20 million automotive shoppers across automotive websites and then aggregates, indexes and summarizes this data into key and unique market analytics. This aggregated data can predict future sales, optimize automotive audience segments, measure campaign, advertising and website performance, and perform additional comparative analysis that helps its clients grow sales, lower costs and retain customers.

Dataium is essentially like a utility company, providing analytics from which marketing and technology providers can draw intelligence to make smarter business decisions.

With Dataium’s assets now owned by IHS Automotive, which of course acquired Polk in 2013, the stage is set for a new era of intelligence about auto shoppers where transactional insights meets demonstrated behavioral insights with expressed.

As one who stands firm behind the practice of marketing to identifiable auto shoppers,  something both Polk and Dataium help achieve, this acquisition is as Jim “The Alpha Dawg” Ziegler would say is, “right on point!”

18 Mar


Penske Enters Race to Foster Online Vehicle Shopping with Preferred Purchase Program


Penske Preferred Purchase Program

Penske Automotive Group launched a pilot this month of its online sales program that will allow consumers to shop and initiate the vehicle purchase process digitally.

Called Preferred Purchase, the program kicked off last week at Audi Tysons Corner in Vienna, Virginia, and is being rolled out on the Web sites of 11 of Penske’s 244 dealerships, five in Florida and six in the Washington, D.C., area.


Preferred Purchase enables customers to handle most of a transaction online, which trims the time spent in a store, said Michael Kabcenell, Penske’s director of strategic initiatives and business development. It also improves pricing transparency by allowing a customer to research vehicles, start a purchase or complete most of the purchase from home.

“We want to give customers the process they want,” said Terri Mulcahey, Penske’s senior vice president of marketing and business development, as quoted in the Automotive News. With Preferred Purchase, customers do not have to give contact or personal financial information to get detailed pricing information. 

According to reports, the program is based on customer feedback, including that from a centralized customer relationship management system it launched a year ago. Some customers said they would like to buy their cars online, some wanted integrated chat, some just want more options but still come into the dealership to finalize the transaction.

Penske’s Preferred Purchase, which links a dealership to the sort of online options available from third-party shopping sites, is the latest in online sales programs being developed by large dealership groups. Penske worked with various vendors to develop the software, and tested it for eight months and will monitor the pilot for an undetermined period before deciding whether to expand it.

How do you think Penske’s pilot will fan out? Or better yet, what do you think it will turn out? Clearly this is an necessary step towards the  direction that the vehicle purchase process that the elite auto groups are able to trail blaze.


18 Mar


Case Study: Enterprise Facebook Publishing for 2015 Chicago Auto Show


Chicago Auto Show Promotion

Chicago Auto Show Promotion


For the second straight year the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) teamed up with SOCIALDEALER and AutoConversion to help promote the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The joint effort was designed to provide local auto dealers with high quality social media content from the auto show for their Facebook pages in a streamlined fashion. The program was free to all CATA dealer members.


As a result of the program, the CATA was able to reach more than 33,000 people on Facebook organically by scheduling more than a thousand photos, videos, and links to 65 different dealership Facebook pages using a method known as Enterprise Publishing. The majority of these posts were brand specific.


This is important because with the declining organic reach that brands are up against on Facebook, paid targeted advertising has become essential for brands to reach folks on the social network. With this effort, auto dealers are receiving free high quality relevant original content for their pages and the Chicago Auto Show is engaging Facebook users through its dealerships.


What is Enterprise Publishing?


Enterprise Publishing, also referred to by SOCIALDEALER as Content Syndication, is a way for brands such as the Chicago Auto Show which is managed by the CATA, to distribute digital content across a network of end points, much like the way syndication works in press and in mass media.


In this case specifically, the Enterprise Publishing capabilities of SOCIALDEALER allowed the CATA to schedule and distribute thousands of Facebook posts to 65 dealership Facebook pages.


With SOCIALDEALER, the participating dealerships maintain full control of what appears on their pages because each post must be approved by the dealer before it can be published. In almost all instances the dealer can even modify or override the date and time the post is scheduled as well as its contents.


Key Metrics


The key metrics that resulted from this effort have been released in a Case Study by AutoConversion who helped to form this program last year with the CATA and SOCIALDEALER during the inaugural USO BBQ for the Troops. AutoConversion provides marketing education and awareness of the program to CATA dealer members and assists with the process of enrolling dealers. Between the USO BBQ and the Chicago Auto Show this was the fourth time the program was run, each time adding more dealerships and Facebook pages and thus reaching more people online.


To receive your free copy of the Enterprise Publishing Case Study simply enter the information below and a copy of the case study will be sent to you via email. You will also be automatically subscribed to BlogPro Automotive. For questions and inquiries please contact Ryan Gerardi on LinkedIn. Thank you.


11 Mar


LotLinx drives deep-funnel auto shoppers directly to your VDPs


LotLinx VDP Advertising

LotLinx VDP Advertising


The number one car shopping activity,

Believe it or not, is searching through inventory.


The vast majority of consumers, believe it or not,

Are doing their pre-purchase research online…


To the tune of 84 distinct car searches during a 45 day sales process, according to LotLinx.


This is not new information.


What is new, however, is the process of learning and tracking exactly what those 84 car searches consist of and how to best reach those low-funnel visitors ready to buy.


Using the latest in Deeplinking ™ technology, a term coined by LotLinx, the company is able to track the digital signals of VINtenders, another term coined by LotLinx suggesting digital consumers ready to buy, and serve up the vehicle information that best matches their research criteria from the dealership’s own Vehicle Details Page (VDP).


Does it work for conversion?


You bet it does!


Based on information published in January 2014 by PCG Consulting, LotLinx dealers shifted 11% of their SEM spend to LotLinx – an average of $1,933 per month:

  • They reduced their cost per shopper from an average of $23.70 with Adwords, to $3.99 with LotLinx
  • They reduced their cost per VDP view from an average of $18.55 with Adwords to $3.17 with LotLinx
  • The increased their Time on Site from an average of 1:96 with Adwords to 4:16 with LotLinx
  • LotLinx delivered 94% new visitors – nearly 20% better than Adwords.

In a study conducted in 2013 by Cobalt called, 9 Million Reasons Why VDP Views are the Metric that Matters, it clearly shows that vehicles that have more Vehicle Detail Page (VDP) views sell faster.


If you want to sell more cars then you need to get your vehicle detail pages in front of as many Internet auto shoppers as possible.


LotLinx drives deep-funnel auto shoppers directly to your website’s Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP). Click below to learn more about LotLinx VDP Advertising.


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