I’ve been in the market for a new car for a while now and since I work with online advertising, I decided to see how well local car dealers would try to win my business through their advertising. I wanted to see how they would target me in all mediums, specifically social marketing and display advertising.

My little experiement ultimatly ended with me purchasing a vehicle, but the advertising journey I had to take to find an active dealer with effective advertising was long and somewhat frustrating. In this blog, I’ll highlight the actions I took to reach out to dealers, and how I was targeted with automotive advertisements.

Let the Journey Begin

If you turn on the TV or drive in your car for more than five minutes, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard or watched at least one commercial promoting a local car dealership. But as I set out on my journey to purchase a car, I wanted a more personal experience. Here’s the thing, traditional media doesn’t listen to me, it’s trying to tell you what they think is best for a potential customer. So I decided to browse a few websites in order to see if any local dealers would retarget me or find me through my browsing pattern.

Sadly, I was disappointed with the results. I wasn’t served a single Remarketing ads, but after a while I started to see some automotive ads from the brands themselves (Toyota was the big winner by far).

Since the local car dealers weren’t doing any type of Audience Targeting, more specifically “In-Market” Audience Targeting, I decided to tweet them.

I was hoping that the hashtags and the subtle hint that “I’m IN-MARKET FOR A NEW CAR” would be enough to catch local dealers attention, but it wasn’t.


The next day, I decided to tweet and TAG the biggest local dealers. It took a whole day to hear from only one of the three dealers.

In the mean time I decided to tag the big brands and ask for assistance.

Ford was the quickest to respond and we were able to setup a visit with the local dealer.

Next day, Honda and Chevy also reached me and were able to setup visits to their local dealers. However, every time that I went to those dealers, the salesman didn’t know that I was referred through Social Media.

Although I’ve received a couple replies (simple referrals to the local dealers), I didn’t receive any special deal or offer.


According to this video from TNS Global – 95% of auto buyers use an online source before buying a car.

The purchase path for customers buying vehicles is definitely one of the most complex there is, but car dealers can’t rely on only one advertising source to inform possible customers. Isn’t it obvious that if online advertising has the most impact in a consumer’s decision to buy a product that those brand should actively invest in online campaigns that direct customers to their brand?

Using Programmatic Advertising, it’s possible to target potential buyers that are in the market for a very specific car make and model. Along with many other targeting criteria, this technology has increase the automotive industry’s capabilities to reach out and put themselves in front of customers who are looking for vehicles.

KeyMedia Solutions has a partnership with Data Providers that allows us to target specifically to the following audiences:

In-Market > Autos > Makes & Models > Honda > Accord

In-Market > Autos > Makes & Models > Chevrolet

Purchase Intent > Autos > Toyota

I’m happy to say, that my journey ended with me purchasing a new vehicle, but I hope that my little experiment will open the eyes of local car dealers. Online advertising is constantly coming up with new and effective ways for businesses to reach out to customers. My journey to purchase a vehicle could have been made much easier if the local automotive market would have actively been looking for me. So here, let me help…

If any business would like to learn more about Programmatic Advertising and how to take advantage of the advertising industry’s latest technology, please contact us at info@keymediasolutions.com.

And if you are wondering what brand won my business, it was Chevy. Only after a lot of research (online), that I decided to go with Chevrolet.