Setting out rules of advertising has never been simple. Sure, if you have co-op funds from your OEM, it is pretty simple. You have to say this and show that. The problem with the Internet is that a customer can exist in many different stages of buying. If someone is just in the research stage of their buying decision, should the OEM be responsible for marketing to them? The counterpoint is that the dealer would like to own the customer from the start. Many of the major web companies offer as much information if not more than the OEM themselves. So why not just send them to the dealer site?
There is no really good answer. Each side has its own argument. Each side can actually make a fairly good argument of when the customer is “theirs.” With that said the chaos of bidding practices will continue and artificially inflate pricing in the search engines. The only winner in this is the search engines and their stock price. Some rules of customer engagement have to be defined to assist in keeping the cost under control.
The search engines are complicated enough without adding economic and marketing rules to them. Dealers finally understand that their customers are online and they have to respond to their desires. Now dealers are trying to understand search and the marketing that is involved in getting a customer to their Web site. So I figured I might as well get the debate started because this situation will be easier to plan for than to fix later.
As you start buying terms in random order or hire a company to do it for you, know that it will all change soon. As the engines evolve and more become localized, the lines will start to blur as to what area of responsibility each group has and who should pay to drive customers to your site.
Personally, it is this writer’s opinion that the OEMs should work with the big words—“Honda.” The regional groups should take the still higher dollar words—“Honda Tulsa.” The dealers should get co-op money from the OEM to market online for even more specific terms. This sounds really simple, but there are many opinions from some very competitive people that it will not be solved easily. The most overriding factor is that this complex issue touches a lot of buckets of money so the solution won’t come quickly. Until then, good luck in your search for “money.”
Vol 3, Issue 5