Car Dealership Marketing in 2023

7 min read·May 11, 2023

Consumers are ready to get back out there and ride, baby, ride, but supply chain issues and new consumer behaviors are getting in the way of car dealerships eager to get back to business as usual.

According to a McKinsey & Company survey, consumers’ intent to purchase a new car last year was close to where it was at pre-COVID-19 levels, but the automotive industry needs to recognize new consumer demands and expectations. That means more high-quality digital and video content, omni-channel marketing, and agile car dealer marketing campaigns.

But how are small and medium sized dealerships supposed to affordably deliver value on channels they don’t have experience with? It’s time to leverage the increasingly sophisticated self-serve platforms available to manage social media, display, Out Of Home, and CTV advertising.

The automotive industry in 2023

COVID and its accompanying economic downturn certainly put national auto sales in low gear, but other macro trends have also contributed to radically reshaping the automotive landscape, even now that consumer intent-to-buy has returned.

Industry disruptions

Over the past 3 years, car dealers have had to contend with endless industry setbacks, the most disruptive of which has got to be supply chain issues and microchip shortages; and while microchip shortages finally eased in the first half of 2023, car buyers won’t see much change in the near term. That means dealerships have to rapidly pivot to new sales and promotion models including the sale of pre-owned vehicles and massive investment in digital marketing.

Meanwhile, a new post-COVID breed of car buyers has brand new expectations.

A new kind of buyer

As work from home policies continue to disrupt the auto sales landscape, standard media patterns have dramatically changed with radio, movie theaters, and sports venues pushed to the very bottom of an effective marketing mix.

Now more than ever, CTV (Connected TV) ads, digital, and mobile are great marketing channels for engaging potential car buyers on the spot with virtual tours of the latest model or special inventory selections at nearby auto dealerships. In fact, a recent study found that 79% of people planning to buy or lease a vehicle in the next 12 months watch ad-supported OTT, and of those auto intenders who view ad-supported OTT, 56% of them are looking to buy a new car, 72% are looking to buy a used car, and 21% of this audience is ready to lease a car.

Car Dealer Mobile Marketing

81% of car shoppers look for deals on their mobile devices before going further in their shopper journey, so while mobile marketing may have felt like a luxury just a few years ago, it’s crucial for car dealers to have a solid strategy as part of their marketing efforts these days.  Here are some effective strategies to optimize your 2023 mobile marketing efforts:

  • Develop a mobile-optimized website with easy navigation, quick load times, and clear calls to action so users have a positive experience when browsing your inventory or services, even on small mobile devices.
  • SMS marketing is an effective way to reach customers directly. Dealerships can use SMS to send locally relevant promotions, alerts about new inventory or service offerings, and reminders for appointments.
  • Dealerships can develop mobile apps that make it easy for customers to browse inventory, schedule appointments, and even complete purchases. Apps can also provide personalized recommendations and incentives based on customer data and preferences.
  • Social media platforms offer powerful self-serve advertising tools that allow dealerships to target potential customers based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. Car dealerships can also use social media to showcase their inventory and services through engaging content and customer testimonials.
  • Dealerships can use location-based advertising to target users who are in close proximity to their physical location thanks to geofencing, which sends ads to users when they enter a specific area, or through beacon technology, which sends ads to users' mobile devices when they are near a dealership.

CTV Dealership Marketing - what is it?

CTV and OTT advertising allow marketers to precisely target customers across devices and channels on what remains the most impactful advertising format out there: television. Oh sure, TV is good for multi-million dollar brands, but what about short-staffed independent dealerships with tight budgets?

Well, the ads may look the same, but trust us when we say it’s a whole other story under the hood: CTV advertising is trackable, scalable, flexible, and most importantly, quick and easy to implement.

A performance channel

CTV advertising is, first and foremost, a performance channel. What does that mean? Well, while our friends at KIA are making million dollar commercial about their new SUVs somehow saving baby turtles, you can carefully parse out just enough budget to target prospective buyers and track if and how they engage with your ad.

Thanks to household IP tracking, you can measure how many CTV viewers visited your dealership, your website or even purchased a car after viewing your ad. You can then track budget allocation and A/B test targeting when necessary.

Growing exponentially

Don’t take our word CTV is worth it - look at your peers! According to eMarketer,

  • Auto dealers are expected to spend $9.47B across the US in 2023
  • 94% of U.S. households are now reachable via programmatic CTV
  • The average time spent per day streaming on a connected device will be about 150% compared to the average time spent watching television, making CTV advertising the fastest growing digital marketing channel this year.

One of the most exciting side effects of CTV’s meteoric rise in the last 2 years is the vast channel inventory now at advertisers’ fingertips. ESPN, Roku, CNN, Paramount plus, Sling, and so many more are now just a click away for the same price as that Facebook campaign you’ve probably been running with fewer and fewer returns for the past year.

Did we hit a nerve? That’s because while the ad tech industry was busy rebuilding its engine from scratch, the auto industry was going through a transformation of its own.

How can CTV move the needle for dealerships?

The automotive industry is already ahead of the CTV marketing curve, seeing significant improvement in the performance of their overall media mix, and let’s face it, with only 5% of Americans in the market for an auto at any given time, buying a new car on average of about once every five years, car dealerships can’t let this new opportunity pass them by.

Targeting and scalability with CTV

The first CTV benefit is scale, where advertisers can leverage large programming opportunities and access to major broadcasters with strong coverage across networks and devices. But what’s the point of massive impression volume if none of those viewers are in the market for a car? CTV target insights allow you to optimize your campaign to eliminate wasted impressions and ensure they are reaching the right audience.

How? Cross-device targeting. 89% of TV audiences have a second device in their hand while watching a program, and IP tracking can follow them the whole way from your ad to their visit to your website or dealership.  It only makes sense to market across devices, then track data from the whole network, rather than just one device. You need the full picture to track meaningful analytics.

Now is the time for dealership marketers to innovate

While shifts in consumer behavior, macroeconomic conditions, and supply chain are enough to drive anyone to despair, things are looking up! Recent studies suggests the U.S. auto industry is in the midst of a V-shaped recovery – sales snapping back rapidly after a sharp decline: after dropping from 16.8 million units in February to 8.6 million in April, sales hit 12.2 million units in May and rising.

That’s really good news, especially now that CTV marketing is easier than ever thanks to’s self-serve CTV platform. All it takes is a short video and clear target segments to get your ad playing on TVs in your area in under 5 minutes.

Try it out for yourself today!


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