I began my career in the automotive industry in 2005. I started PCG to help business owners with their online presence, which at that time was a website, search engine optimization (SEO), and some basic Google AdWords campaigns. Most automotive manufacturers were not allowing dealers to submit digital agency invoices for co-op funds.
When manufacturers started to rework co-op reimbursement policies to include digital marketing, I was initially very excited. I believed that by allowing dealers to fund a strong digital strategy, co-op funds would entice dealers to connect with more online shoppers.
Fast-forward to 2017 and my opinions on OEM co-op programs have changed dramatically. My blind trust in Google advertising has been replaced with data-driven decisions for my automotive clients. Early in my career, I rallied against third-party portals because I believed that it was easy for dealers to connect with online shoppers and direct them to a shopping experience that would satisfy their needs. Today, I have come to understand and appreciate the role that third-party portals provide in the consumer purchase process.
Though I have written extensively about the gross mishandling of some OEM managed digital programs with their back-office deals and recruitment policies that hamper innovation, little has changed regarding OEM co-op programs.
Most OEM sponsored digital advertising programs are fall short due to forced margin compression. Google has allowed the reputation of AdWords and the protections of the business owners who pay for AdWords campaigns, to be trampled by greed.
My goal is to help dealers sell the most cars from the OEM funds that are available to them. If that is to happen, we must allow the data to tell its story.