Three ways the auto industry can accelerate digital marketing with AI

By IBM Watson Advertising

Few industries have seen more upheaval and disruption than the automotive industry. Even before the global pandemic turned supply-chains and retail upside down, the auto industry was experiencing seismic change as consumers demanded digital experiences equal to or better than in-person shopping.

To meet this challenge, automotive professionals must raise their digital marketing game. Applying artificial intelligence (AI) to existing data can help organizations gain significant advantage.

1. Identify new customers before they identify themselves

Certain online behaviors indicate a high likelihood for purchasing your products early in the sales process, possibly before consumers even start researching their next car. With the recent developments around third party cookies and mobile advertising identification, AI can help brands locate new prospects much sooner by using first-party data in conjunction with tens of thousands of near real-time data signals to find consumers with similar behaviors and attributes.

This approach can extend your potential consumer base and give you a head start in the marketplace. You can designate high priority targets by finding the overlapping segments between demographics. Because these solutions rely on behaviors rather than personal data, they don’t need cookies and are also more likely to comply with increasing privacy regulations. 

2. Reach customers with a tailored message

The promise and challenge of digital marketing is getting the right message in front of the right consumer at the right time. An ad that resonates with a 40-something metropolitan man may not impact a 20-something rural woman. Dynamic creative optimization solutions use AI to automatically determine and deliver messaging and elements most likely to resonate with individual customer segments.

Each defined segment receives a unique ad experience – for example, different messages, colors, graphics and more – in combinations that are most likely to result in engagement and conversion. These solutions can also learn over time to improve their effectiveness.

3. Connect in a personalized manner at scale

For today’s consumer, personalization is table stakes. But delivering personalized customer experience is a tall order for many auto organizations lacking the infrastructure or budget required. AI technologies can allow businesses to excel in this space by facilitating 1:1 “live chat” conversations designed to understand the consumer’s intent and provide unique answers, recommendations or next steps. This capability supports customer connections that reflect your brand and feel personal without using private data.

You can also make updates to your campaign while it’s live based on user interactions to help drive awareness, impact and conversion. In-campaign reporting and optimizations, post-campaign insights and brand studies also provide a robust view of key metrics and conversational insights to inform future strategies.

The new auto row

For over a hundred years, car dealerships have clustered on highways, engaging in side-by-side competition. These human-to-human interactions will likely always have a major role in car shopping, but waiting for a prospective customer to walk through your door is a mistake. As noted by Sepi Arani, media and commercial director at carwow, the average number of visits to a dealership before a purchase has dropped from about 8 to an estimated 1.6 while the number of digital touchpoints involved has risen to 24.

Like any seismic shift for an industry, this digital transformation represents unprecedented opportunity for companies that are savvy enough to take advantage. Carvana and other e-commerce platforms are growing rapidly. The future of ride-sharing is uncertain due to concerns about infection, which could mean more cars per household. And with the new AI-driven tools ready to be applied, the race for consumer attention and engagement in the digital marketplace is on.

Contact us today to learn more about accelerating digital marketing with AI.