3 min read

Media Buying Best Practices: How to win the March plate change with PPC

New Plate launches still play a massive role in the calendar of the automotive industry, with consumers looking to get the newest car possible; people can even hang on in the preceding months to secure the latest plate. These releases occur twice a year in March and September, causing peaks in sales and site traffic. The importance of these months has diminished slightly over the past few years, with performance in automotive becoming far more flat, although most dealerships have aggressive targets at these times.

The priority for most automotive dealers has now become about securing the sales for March/September in the build-up, generating a large number of orders that can all be delivered on the 1st March. Given current order times this can start at the turn of the year, with January Promotions proving vital for March sales figures.

3 important times for automotive marketers to focus on:

  • Active research stage – individual knows they need a new vehicle, begin shortlisting makes and models
  • Decision making stage – have decided on the car they want, now all about ensuring they choose our dealership
  • Upgrade moments – given the higher propensity for finance options, there is much more likelihood of consumers changing cars on a frequent basis

At each stage of the journey it is important we buy our media through the correct channel, targeting the most likely audience with strong creative that leads them through the journey and purchasing a vehicle with us.

Which media to use at each stage:


Active Research Phase

This is likely to be undertaken in the form of dealership events and promotional periods. We are looking to get our message out to as many people whilst collecting relevant data. As such we would look to use:

  • Display Prospecting
    • Often doesn’t have the highest engagement rate, however, it can be an affordable way of achieving reach. In this case we will only be targeting people with an active interest in automotive
  • Paid Social Prospecting
    • Has proven an engaging media for automotive, although in order to build a remarketing pool it’s imperative we drive people to our site
  • Video
    • This is another channel that can deliver a message at scale, the activity can now be bought programmatically ensuring only the most relevant audience is bought. Similarly, Paid Social assets can prove very engaging for automotive with automotive videos proving very popular
  • Content
    • Educating people through content is one of the most effective ways of engaging the right audience. These people may not convert instantly but they will come back and explore the options when they are ready. You should also encourage people to come back to your site through remarketing

Decision Making Stage:

  • Paid Social
    • Lead Gen – historically delivered us leads at a cheap CPL, proving very popular during promotional periods and events, both of which are successfully used to generate sales ahead of March
    • Remarketing – using the audience built in the research stage, serving them creative that highlights the USPs of going with our dealership
  • Paid Search
    • Standard paid search – still an effective way of talking to engaged individuals given they are actively searching for an automotive product
    • Remarketing for search – remarketing in search has been around for a few years, and has proven successful from a conversion rate perspective as we know these people have been on our site before and are now returning to search for a relevant term
  • Display
    • Contextual targeting – set campaigns targeting people who have been on competitor or aggregator sites recently, once again we know these people are in-market, so we are willing to pay a premium to talk to them and get them to use us over a competitor
    • Remarketing – as mentioned above we know these people have engaged with our brand before, important we aim to keep them throughout the purchase process

Upgrade moments

As we know, people on our CRM database will be looking for a new vehicle, we can overlay this data with our media buying, including:

  • Search
    • Google Customer Match allows us to target our search activity based upon our CRM database and lookalike audiences,
  • Display
    • Most display partners can accept databases and target people based on this

Discover how our Paid Media services can help drive traffic to your website. Contact us today to start creating your campaigns.

What do you think about digital marketing for the new plate change? Let us know! Tweet us @honcho_search or get in touch on Instagram or LinkedIn to share your thoughts. Like keeping up with the latest news and industry updates? Sign up to our newsletter!

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