Industry News & Trends

Will Dataium Revolutionize Automotive Digital Marketing and the Role of CRM?

I recently attended the 2011 Ignite Dealer Summit in Minnesota and was fortunate to hear a presentation by Jason Ezell, President and Co-Founder, Dataium LLC.

dataium logoJason discussed the benefits that dealers can realize today from business intelligence tools based on consumer shopping behavior on the Internet.

The level of detail of each Internet consumer varies based on Dataium’s relationship with the websites the consumer visits.  Dataium has partnered with OEM’s, dealers, social media platforms, and automotive website providers to place their tracking code on their websites.

Google on the other hand provides free data on “assisting websites” as part of Google Analytics Multi Channel Sales Funnels, which I will discuss in greater detail in a minute. The data that Google Analytics would provide is at a basic level, like “consumer A” visited YouTube and then Craigslist prior to hitting a dealer website. The software can then help you define the top Conversion Paths taken by consumers which is very valuable information for prioritizing your advertising investments.

The Dataium code is designed to identify and track consumer behavior at a higher level of detail. Dataium tracking would know which specific pages on a website were viewed. Tapping this data to create automated actionable business rules in a dealer’s CRM system will change the face of sale sales, service, and digital marketing.


Recovering Leads In Your CRM System

One application of cloud based business intelligence tools I considered was helping dealers recover value in the thousands of leads that their sales staff have marked  “unworkable” or “dead” in their CRM system.  This is a major CRM challenge for dealer principals since their BDC has such power over marking leads.

Each month dealers receive new leads to work directly from their website or through 3rd party providers. I don’t have to remind dealers that sales professionals love to cherry pick leads. Consumer leads that are past their “prime” are left alone for more promising, current month leads.

If human labor was not involved, wouldn’t it be powerful to be notified that when your “unworkable consumers” are back online shopping for a car somewhere else?


How Big Is The Potential Network?

Imagine if this network of websites included,,,,,, OEM websites, automotive chat communities, and website that could provide actionable data like banking or credit websites.

Imagine a day when your sales team is notified that former customer Ms. Jones, that was marked unworkable in your CRM, took 3 minutes to view the product pages for a 2012 Jeep Wrangler on today.  Imagine how the sales process will change if the notification also reported that Ms. Jones had also visited today and viewed nine Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) on 2010 and 2011 used Jeep Wrangler.

What would your chance of reconnecting with this in-market shopper prior to this new type of automated tracking and business intelligence tools?  Slim to none.

Imagine the power of a phone call that comes from your sales team, triggered by this data, that starts with, “Ms. Jones, I know you contacted our dealership a few months back about a Jeep and I was just calling you back to see if you are still in the market and if we can assist you?”


Smart Data Warehousing Powers Dataium Model

The key to making this concept work is to connect thousands of websites that collect consumer information.  As consumers submit lead forms, their IP address is associated with a data record.  Most lead forms have basic contact information, phone numbers and email addresses.

If you have access to enough consumer data you can start matching this data back to consumer records and activity on other websites.

In addition to lead forms, cookies left on the consumer’s browser can provide websites with a rich data stream of which websites the consumer previously visited.  This concept creates a data warehouse that will change the face of online sales.  Read ahead and let’s see how this may play out.


Changing The Costs Of Customer Engagement and Retention

Dealers can’t afford to call their aged leads with the hope they will find the 2-3% of the list that are still in the market for a car.  Dealers can’t afford to call their existing customers back every month asking if they are in the market for a car.

The day is quickly coming when dealers will be notified when their customers and prospects are engaging in automotive shopping behavior. This alert will allow them to insert their business back into the sales cycle.

Automotive sales professionals attempt a timely and compelling response to a consumer who submits a lead form on their website.  Imagine the quality of initial engagement that could be achieved if the lead came with the consumer’s previous online shopping behavior.

In the near future, a lead coming into the CRM system will include rich data.  For example, it could report that the consumer had visited and looked at a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado.  It could inform the dealer that the same consumer visited Kelly Blue Book and requested a trade-in estimate for a 2003 Silverado.

Would you change the way you initially greeted a consumer if a richer dataset was available?  I bet all dealers would shout affirmatively: yes!

To some degree it is here today and greater advances will be announced in the coming years.  Dataium co-founder Jason Ezell stated that approximately 5,000 dealers have their tracking code installed on their websites.

Although he did not include all the data partners in the Dataium network, his model immediately triggered a thought about and their recent acquisitions.  Could they build a powerful competing business intelligence model exclusive to their customers?


The Future of Automotive Digital Marketing

As automotive websites become standardized and commoditized by OEM regulations, it will be more important for dealers to have a rich set of business intelligence tools and automated CRM that assist them with communicating with consumers more effectively.

A well designed website with a compliant SEO structure and the ability to easily update photos, specials, and content will be the norm and no longer cutting edge.  This year, the number of website platforms that are Google SEO compliant have significantly increased.  Dealers have demanded better websites and the vendors have responded, but as you will read, that conversation is last year’s news.

Companies who offer only website platforms to dealers should take note of the massive changes that are coming.  I predict more consolidation will occur in 2012, which will narrow the field of companies providing websites to dealers.  Reason will be simple.  Data analytics and smarter CRM processes will be the key focus for car dealers and not the shiny object of a “compliant” website.


The Appeal of OEM Website Contracts

OEM logosI finally understand why companies like Cobalt, ClickMotive, and are so motivated to obtain long term OEM website contracts that mandate their technology for franchise dealers.   These contracts enabled the contracted companies to offer business intelligence tools that the OEM’s could use to measure and compare dealers and understand consumer online shopping behavior.

The unique advantage that OEM platform providers have is that they can track on-site inventory searches, page views, and see which paths led to a form being submitted or a call being made.  The internal site data and lead tracking is not available to outside analytics companies like Google.

Having access to data across a network of thousands of individual OEM dealer websites is powerful. Access to OEM franchise data is not golden ticket it once was.  The real win for vendors and dealers will come from aggregated data from dealer websites and third party sites that influence automotive sales and service decisions.

The automotive industry in the coming years will be extremely focused on developing alerts and CRM event triggers during the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).  Google defines ZMOT as any websites that consumers visit prior to contacting a dealer that influence their buying decision are included in the ZMOT.

The second part of this article will discuss the players that may be seeking to claim bragging rights to being the first to deliver a rich set of data and business processes for dealer CRM systems based on ZMOT behaviors.

Is there a competitor lurking in the shadows that is ready to take a bit out of Dataium’s lunch?  Maybe…but that will have to wait for Part II of this article.

Press Releases are hand selected by our editors to appear on the DealerRefresh Blog. To learn more or to submit your own, go here. Thank you.
  • J
    Jerry Thibeau
  • September 12, 2011
Great article Brian.  This is one reason why a dealer would want to have a good CRM with a very large database.  Question is, will consumers ever have a tool that will allow them to not be tracked.  This is getting scary!
Thanks Brian. This is such powerful stuff. OEM's already using it widely. The "early-adopter" dealers will gain significant competitive advantage.
  • B
    Brian Pasch
  • September 13, 2011
Jerry, the scary part is that this is commonplace and not new.  Companies that can leverage ZMOT into intelligent CRM business processes will be ahead of the pack.  I'll be posting part II to this article soon...then let the games begin!
Nice write-up Brian.  Future and present capabilities are nuts!  ;) ;)
Theres a lot of new stuff BP is talking about here. I've spent hours thinking about the ZMOT prespective and it has completely changed the way I think about internet marketing and what is the main mission of our Dealer web site.

IMO, the entire ZMOT opportunity and ZMOT experience is poorly understood and poorly executed (by myself incl'd) and in 2012 I will attack this with a new zeal!

In our industry, I really believe the the highest ROI ZMOT game plan is NOT measured by lead generation... what so ever.  A killer ZMOT is all about delivering a message of a great buying experience.

More ZMOT Background: What is ZMOT?


On paper, Datium data working with the CRM creates a synergy that is
undeniable, it's got game changer all over it. 

I' no expert on this, But Datium's is it's strength is
also it's weakness. The power comes from its ability to connect a
shopper's name to a visit AND to connect a shoppers web trail to a lead. The
difficulty comes from getting the shoppers name.  No shopper name (read: lead), no
meaningful leverage.    We all know in our biz, shoppers demand stealth
shopping, so, datium must have a giant system that harvests contact info
OUTSIDE the autoshopping tent, and, once the shopper enters the auto
shopping tent, the not-so STEALTH shopper can be tracked. 

Obviously, this raises all kinds of privacy ebbie-jeebies, but, now that I think of it, folks
don't care if 40apps on their cell tell the apps servers where they are all the
time, so, the privacy concerns maybe over blown by me.


The other 800lb gorilla Datium has to harness is will all the
platforms people use water down the info or improve it?  People are all
over the place:


Desktop HomeLaptop HomeIpad Home (wifi)Ipad 3/4GSmartPhone (personal)Work PC

Fascinating topic for sure.
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • September 13, 2011
"People are all over the place:

Desktop HomeLaptop HomeIpad Home (wifi)Ipad 3/4GSmartPhone (personal)Work PC."
Joe so so true. That didn't even cross my mind...DUH.

I personally go from my MacBook to my iPad to my iMac then over to my phone. Who knows what device I'm on any given time.
However, we know most people are shopping while at work. Most likely on their one and only work computer.
This will get interesting.

Jeff Kershner
Founder | DealerRefresh

[email protected]
240 217 1740

Mobile site traffic is so interesting & exciting. After grinding thru the stats, the mobile traffic is NOT STEALING time or visits from the main site.

This is wonderful new traffic for us!
  • B
    Brian Pasch
  • September 13, 2011
Wait to you read part II of this article...then the pot will be stirred a bit about Monday release Jeff?
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • September 13, 2011
Monday it is!
Jeff Kershner
Founder | DealerRefresh

[email protected]
240 217 1740
  • J
    Jesse J.
  • September 14, 2011
This is a great concept. I was under the impression VIN solutions already had something like this incorporated into their CRM? Maybe it's not as comprehensive. What is the pricing on this product?
  • B
    Brian Pasch
  • September 15, 2011
VinSolutions has VINLens which tracks the referring URL source in the CRM so that you have the ability to see leads by last referring source. They also have cookie technology and tracks specific websites.The Dataium project takes that to another level because their deeper access to other dealer websites and partner sites gives more comparative data as well as deeper shopping data.
Great Post Brian!  I'm on the edge of my seat for part 2.
  • J
    Jerry Thibeau
  • September 16, 2011
I just read this from Google: 

Google is making a concession to give owners of residential wireless networks greater privacy.
a change announced on Tuesday, Google will prevent residential wireless
systems from being listed in a database that helps the company track
people on mobile phones.
The adjustment is a response to concerns
raised in Europe. Regulators have periodically looked into whether
Google's mapping services violate Europe's privacy laws.
To avoid
trouble, Google will permit owners of wireless networks to opt out of
the company's tracking technology. The option will be available
worldwide in autumn.
Google relies on the signals from wireless,
or Wi-Fi, networks scattered around neighbourhoods to get a better
handle on locations of someone on a mobile phone using Google's Android
software or other services.
The company says the Wi-Fi networks do not reveal people's identities.
  • E
    "Expert" Brian Pasch
  • September 21, 2011
Hm. Questionable data in this article.

Brian Pasch says:
"This year, the number of website platforms that are Google SEO compliant have significantly increased."
There is no "Google SEO compliance." You either do SEO well or you don't. To say that these vendors are meeting some sort of standard that Google provided is false.

Brian Pasch says:"The unique advantage that OEM platform providers have is that they can track on-site inventory searches, page views, and see which paths led to a form being submitted or a call being made.  The internal site data and lead tracking is not available to outside analytics companies like Google."

This is entirely false. The unique disadvantage of OEM platforms is that they prohibit the dealer from tracking important elements because they don't give you access to the source code. Who cares about "tracking pageviews"? We're not advertising based sites so pageviews are irrelevant. What's important is conversion rate and lead count and you better believe that you can get ALL OF THAT INFORMATION with Google Analytics. You can define goals, goal funnels, track custom javascript events, segment data, track phone calls down to the keyword level (yes, that's possible!), and much much more. The "website report" that Cobalt used to send us is the biggest pile of useless and un-actionable crap data I've ever seen.

You want real data? Shy away from the OEM sites and find someone that knows how to use Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer. You'll be amazed at how much you aren't getting from your OEM website provider.
  • S
  • December 14, 2011
I find this conversation very interesting as I have placed the Dataium source on several specific submit forms and pages to see evidence of their pitch.  The key is tracking every page, including the manufacturer reemed webistes/silos, and all third-party placements. Some companies have rejected the request, yet I'm paying them, so with a permission slip, we may get them tagged. I agree most dealers have no clue how to funnel and test their active pages, simply reviewing the used cars most active hits. However, getting the opportunity to understand what it means and how to channel this into an ongoing strategy is beyond most dealership staff.
I look ofrward to vetting the results of our Dataium test and sharing the score.