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Dealership advertising rebounds after year's pandemic disruption

October 2, 2020
Eighty-two percent of dealers said they would rely heavily on social media advertising such as Facebook and Instagram for the rest of this year, according to a new survey from automotive digital marketer PureCars.
Sixty-two percent said they would use direct marketing channels, and 61% would use SEO/search marketing efforts to reach customers.
The PureCars survey found that dealers’ digital advertising strategies have shifted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and so have their advertising strategy plans for the remainder of the year.
"It goes without saying that dealership advertising patterns were most disrupted in the spring, following the initial outbreak of COVID-19," PureCars chief executive Jeremy Anspach said in a news release.
The survey also seems to illustrate a decline in interest for using traditional broadcast media for advertising. That represented the lowest percentage in the survey, at 33%. Traditional print media was next lowest, at 37%, followed by traditional media signage/billboard, at 38%.
Forty-eight percent of dealership executives mentioned connected TV as a conduit for reaching customers.
In addition to where and how dealers will spend their advertising dollars, PureCars also surveyed dealer participants about which messages they will convey to customers. PureCars said it was not surprising that 83% of dealers said they will use messages about COVID-19 cleanliness.
Sixty-seven percent said they would use messages about digital retail/contactless.
PureCars said a surprising survey result was that dealers are choosing to promote payment over price as their advertising message. Sixty-seven percent said they promoted F&I options. That is followed by great offers at 64%, and trade-ins at 63%.
Anspach said after the spring disruption in dealership advertising patterns, dealers "quickly regrouped," and dealership advertising has shown a steady rebound through summer and into fall.
"The dealers surveyed confirmed what we’re already seeing, which is a boost in digital advertising plans for the balance of year and into 2021," Anspach said. "We’ve seen dealers invest in channels and tactics they never considered as critical prior to 2020. 
"These unprecedented times have forced dealers to rethink their digital advertising and sales strategies, inspiring more creative approaches to solving tactical, as well as operational, challenges that have yielded impressive results, benefiting both dealers and consumers."