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Digital Summit 2013 at Google Review with Kevin Frye

[highlight color=”#FAAC58″ font=”black”]Thanks to Kevin Frye for taking the time this weekend to give everyone a his view of this years Digital Summit on Mountain View. DealerRefresh was once again a proud sponsor and sends another Thank You to all that attended and helped make this amazing conference happen.[/highlight]


Just spinning my wheels at Google's Headquarters
Just spinning my wheels at Google’s Headquarters

Straight from the horse’s mouth! – That sums up why this was my favorite conference last year, and again this year. When so many of our automotive eCommerce efforts are intertwined with Google, where do you think one would find the best knowledge to get even better – at GOOGLE! This is the second year for Digital Summit, and I want to first thank the sponsors, which include Haystak, VinSolutions, ActivEngage, HookLogic / Autohook, DealerRefresh, Kenshoo Local, and Marchex. I would also share that as I write this review, I regret not writing one for the same event last year – I want to extend a late thanks to Ali and Amir at DealerOn who were one of the key sponsors for the first Digital Summit event.

Thank you to our 2013 Digital Summit Sponsors

Grease is the Word. I disagree, and so does Todd Rowe, Managing Director of Global Sales at Google – we both agree that MOBILE is the word.

Todd opened up the summit with an overview of what we would be looking at, as well as sharing that automotive is one of Google’s top 3 revenue streams. With that said, I think automotive has Google’s attention, and Google has been building up an internal team to support us over the years which is quite encouraging. If I can sum up Todd’s remarks in one word, it would be MOBILE.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new revolution going on, and if you have not figured it out yet, it is the rapid growth of mobile. Google is following this closely, and you should be as well. Would you rather fight the elephant? Or ride the elephant? If our shoppers are going mobile, then you should be as well, and it is readily apparent that Google is embracing this.

Todd shared that Google sees the aftermarket for automotive as a great opportunity. Hmmm, does that give you some ideas?

Great time catching up with David Metter of HookLogic
Great time catching up with David Metter of HookLogic

Wanna have Sex with Data? Next up was Mitch Joel, author of the bestselling book “Six Pixels of Separation” and President of Twist Image.

Mitch’s first question was “Are you capitalizing on the change in mobile?” Mitch then moved on to how big-data is being used by industries like ourselves, calling it “Sex with Data“, but warned us that using this data should be a “consensual data relationship”, where we give value to our shoppers in return for their data.

What does he mean?

Go to Amazon, log into your account, and then shop for some items. Look at how Amazon serves up other recommended items for you based on previous searches and similar searches, as well as reviews and more, all based on the data they have collected from you. Now log out of Amazon, clear your cache, and run the same searches. Do you see the difference? Amazon is using big data to add value to your consumer experience.

Can dealerships do the same? Absolutely!

How about taking the big-data you collect and having your website dynamically change to customize the shoppers’ experience. If you have looked at Cobalt’s new Flex site, that is one of the features you can utilize (eg. visitor goes to, searches for a new  Silverado, and then goes to your Cobalt dealership site, which takes that big data and changes the home screen to default to a search for new Silverados, as well as changing the rotator and special to one that is for the Silverado).

Mitch also shared a great example of how Lego is reinventing the shopping experience in their brick and mortar Lego stores. The old way to shop for Legos was to pick up the box, shake it, and look at the pictures and think about what the Lego model would look like if you built it. Take a look at the new Lego Digital box – impressive! (you might also want to check out Mitch’s new book, “Ctrl Alt Delete“…

Google Art - The big guy eats the little guy, but then another little guy eats him, hmmm...
Google Art – The big guy eats the little guy, but then another little guy eats him…

Mobile App, or Mobile Crap – Sorry about the strong language, but Dan Moore from VinSolutions spoke about automotive websites, and challenged many of us with new ideas, including this – Ask yourself – if your dealership app does everything your mobile website already does, why do you need a dealership app?

I have been saying that for a long time as well. Your mobile website should focus on 3 things that your consumer can do simply and quickly. First, can they see your inventory?  Second, can they get your map and directions, and finally, can they get your hours and phone number (click to call).

Dan also shared how most dealers wait to post their newest specials on Friday, right before the weekend (just like dealerships do with their newspaper ads). Here is the problem, the bulk of your online visitors are on your site Monday through Thursday, so perhaps you should consider changing when you update your specials online. And btw, per dealer apps, the next generation of dealership apps needs to do MORE than what we can already do with our mobile websites. My gut feeling is that success will be found in fixed ops solutions…

Jerry Thibeau, Sean Stapleton, Jason Wiley and more line up for lunch at Google
Jerry Thibeau, Sean Stapleton, Jason Wiley and more line up for lunch at Google

Is SEM Scary? It can be, if you partner with Duncan Scarry with Haystak, who talked about Paid Search Advertising Trends, and pushed dealers to reconsider how they measure success with their SEM efforts.

Think about this, if you run a $14.95 oil change SEM campaign, and it costs you $16 for a call to convert, does that make sense? Many dealers forget to look at the big picture of what they are doing with their online advertising efforts and miss things like this. Most of us also believe that getting the lowest cost per click is the metric for success.

What if a higher cost per click campaign results in a car sale that generates $2,000 in gross profit, is it worth the higher cost then?

SEM is no longer simply a measure of getting the lowest cost per click. It now involves looking at the entire scope of the digital experience and the resulting profit that comes from your campaign. For most progressive dealers, that means you need to partner with a SEM company that utilizes software solutions that help optimize your campaigns. (see later paragraph about Kenshoo…)

I call this this the "Stairway to Search"
I call this this the “Stairway to Search”

Where is the best fishing hole at Google? I like to fish where the fish are, and Jordan Hyatt of Google was there to be my fishing buddy, as he spoke about the Power of YouTube. Let’s look at some of the interesting stats Jordan shared.

Did you know that over 60% of digital video views are at home? Did you know that 66% of Generation C spends more time watching online videos than TV? Now take into consideration that 50% of TV viewership is on channels that have less than 1% share of the market. Wow – remember the days of there being 3 primary networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and maybe a couple of UHF channels? Now our market is spread across hundreds of network channels AND many more of our shoppers are not even on TV, they are watching digital video online.

If you want to find the fish, you better be using some video digital advertising online, just saying…

Trying on my first pair of "Google Glasses"
Neil Hoyne of Google lets me try on his “Google Glasses”, thanks Neil!

Whip it Good! Yes, I might have looked like Devo (thanks Brent Wees), but I was styling!

Between sessions I saw a Google employee wearing a pair of the “Google Glasses” – this was the first actual pair I have seen someone wearing. I could not resist approaching him and introducing myself, and then humbly asking if I could try them on. Fortunate for me, he was very gracious and not only allowed me to try them on, he showed me how to use them. AWESOME!

With a quick swipe on the side of the glasses frame and a couple verbal commands, I looked out at the audience and took a picture. I have watched the Google Glass project from its infancy, and I am excited about its future. Imagine what it would be like to sell a car in your dealership to someone that was wearing a pair of these… I then realized that the kind Google employee that let me borrow his Google Glasses was our next speaker, Neil Hoyne, Google Global Program Manager, who talked about Google Analytics.

Neil Hoyne gives my favorite presentation - Google Analytics!
Neil Hoyne gives my favorite presentation – Google Analytics!

Does the last click do the trick? Neil shared that all of us need to look beyond that “last click” that brought a shopper into our website, or converted our shopper to a phone call or form.

The entire “digital conversation” must be looked at to truly understand how to market optimally to our consumers, and attract them to our dealership. The assisted conversions and multi-channel funnel features in Google Analytics are important tools that dealers can use to make the best marketing decisions.

Another very interesting area that Google is looking at is the idea of universal analytics, where we can combine our website and CRM data together. Imagine having this data combined in Google Analytics, where you could track the shopper within your site, to a dealership onsite visit, and then to an actual sale and the revenue you earned. One could then actually better quantify their ROI for digital marketing efforts. This would be HUGELY beneficial!

Shawn Petley shows you why it's hard to get Google support - they are busy playing pool!
Shawn Petley shows you why it’s hard to get Google support – they are busy playing pool!

Do you need enhanced performance? I’m sorry, I was just distracted by one of the hundreds of spam emails I get per day, but I digress.

Lindsay Schultz, Google Senior Account Manager, talked about Google’s Enhanced Campaigns, which really work to address the large growth in mobile shoppers. I really had great interest in how Google uses big-data to determine the relevance of an ad based on the intent and context of a searcher’s query.

Let’s look at someone searching for “pizza restaurants”. Google could just serve up some basic ads for pizza restaurants – OR Google could provide an enhanced experience by looking at the context of the search. Let’s say the query was made from a smart phone, at 7:30 pm, and the person was located downtown when they made the search. Google would look at this info and serve up an ad for $3 slices at a place downtown or an ad that offers pizza delivery. Another query for “pizza restaurants” might be made from a laptop at home at 11:45 am. Google would look at that info and serve up an ad for “Lunchtime pizza special, home delivery!”. Google used the context of the search to determine the likely intent of the searcher!

Once again, we are seeing how big-data can be used to create value for the shopper and provide a customized experience. Lindsay continued to emphasize mobile, and shared that Google sees 47% of auto inquiries coming through mobile devices in 2013.

Are you curious how your website performs across multiple mobile devices? Use this tool, .

Grant Cardone talks about greatness at Google
Grant Cardone talks about greatness at Google

Smoke’em if You Got’em! I wrote that line for Jason Wiley of Haystak, and I know he will laugh.

Grant Cardone wrapped up our first day with an energized presentation. He asked us where we saw our profit margins going with the future market. Margins are getting leaner over time folks if you have not figured it out, but Grant shared that you can beat that with GREATNESS.

I loved how Grant shared that all of us could utilize all of the technology we want, but at the end of the day, it is about the people we have on our teams. Will doubling your digital ad budget mean you automatically double your sales? No, but motivating and properly training our people to be great will allow us to leverage modern technology to reach our best sales performance.

Now if someone is in the way of you getting the job done – well that is where the paragraph’s opening line came from. Read “The 10X Rule” by Grant and learn more (and thanks for the signed copy Grant!)

Voelker Jaeckel aka "VJ" enjoys cocktail hour with his 10X Book, gotcha VJ!
Voelker Jaeckel aka “VJ” enjoys cocktail hour with his 10X Book, looking very introspective VJ!

Don’t fight the elephant – ride the elephant – Monica Morse, Head of Social, SMB, at Google, spoke about Google+, and I must share that this session started to rapidly get off track as folks started sharing their complaints with Google Local, Google Places, you name it.

Monica took this all in stride, and was very open to input from frustrated dealers in the room. The good news is this, Google seems to understand the problems we are dealing with managing multiple dealerships, duplicate listings, and more, and they are working hard to fix it. Google wants Google+ to be your business identity across all platforms.

Don’t fight the elephant, ride it – that means you better have your Google+ page setup correctly. Having recent posts and content on your business Google+ page is also tremendously beneficial as it shows up for Google searches for your dealership. While all of us know that Google+ is nowhere close in the amount of social traffic that Facebook gets, it is growing in utilization and importance for your dealership.

Did you know that you can merge your YouTube channel with your Google+ page? Monica recommended you do it… Google is focused on making it simpler for us to manage multiple dealerships.

If you have not checked out the new Google+ dashboard launched last June, this is one step in that direction.

Dinner with friends at Digital Summit 2013
Dinner with friends at Digital Summit 2013

Here is a tribute to attribution – Digital attribution that is, do you see a recurring theme?

Jonathan Rosen with Kenshoo talked about social, and he built upon the fact that dealerships need to look at all touch-points in the digital conversation to make the best decisions with their marketing efforts. Data shows that multiple assists are part of the equation to getting a shopper to your dealership, but how do we properly attribute these assists in deciding which vendors to use and which strategies work? It’s called digital attribution measurement, and in the upcoming years, I believe that dealers will have many new solutions to look at that work to answer this question in helping us to identify the best places to put our marketing dollars. I also believe that it is the beginning of the end for many current automotive advertising solutions…

John Watkins , April Rain, Alex Jefferson, Kate Frost, and Jim Bell with me at Facebook Headquarters
John Watkins , April Rain, Alex Jefferson, Kate Frost, and Jim Bell with me at Facebook Headquarters

LIKE LIKE LIKE – I want to throw out a big thank you to Kate Frost of Kate Frost Inc. who invited me to join her on a tour of Facebook with her client Peter Wilson (Owner and GM of Orlando Infinity and Aston Martin Lotus Orlando – who graciously allowed me to tag along).

A few things stood out for me while visiting Facebook after leaving Google. The people at Facebook appear to be a lot younger on average than at Google. Facebook seemed to have a very laid back atmosphere, with open workspaces, graffiti on the wall, and an underlying rebellious attitude that encouraged a hacker mentality of “let’s break it, and then make it better”. You can sense the excitement of such a young, immense company like Facebook.

When it comes to mobile, Facebook dominates this platform, and they also provide the best mobile experience available. How can you take advantage of that? The Facebook Ads Power Editor allows you to market to Facebook users by targeting your own data, or targeting Facebook’s data partnered with outside data tools like Polk. Not only that, while most of us see the advantage of Facebook’s huge audience, did you stop to consider that a tremendous benefit of marketing on Facebook is that we are marketing to people who share their “true identity”, using their actual name, sharing their likes, and much more.

Hackers' Square, the center of the Facebook Campus
Hackers’ Square, the center of the Facebook Campus

Sniff sniff, why don’t they like me…  A few years ago, I gave a presentation at Digital Dealer where I talked about Social Media, and I asked dealers, “why would someone want to be friends with a dealership?”.

Guess what – Facebook said the same thing during our visit, and we both agree – it is a challenge to get someone to like you as a dealer, and remember, car dealers are liked about as much as lawyers and politicians…  However, you can work to engage shoppers online with great content, creative ads, and by developing better relationships online. Social Media drives transparency in our business, and while it is difficult to succeed as a dealer with social media, it will make dealers better as it forces us to maintain the highest level of integrity in order to gain the trust and friendship of people on social media.

Join Jeff Kershner and I this fall at the Vegas' conferences!
Join Jeff Kershner and I this fall at the Vegas’ conferences!

TOP SECRET – Do not read this… There was a lot more, BUT I cannot tell you or Google will gouge my eyes out and cut off my tongue.

One of the greatest benefits of this conference is being able to see confidential and proprietary information that Google is working on – which also means I must respect that and not share some of the most exciting things we learned in this online review.

As always, it was great to see many great friends and leaders in the industry that I respect. If I can sum up this conference to 2 things, it is this…

We must look at the ENTIRE scope of the digital experience in today’s market to make the best ecommerce decisions, and the mobile revolution is in progress, don’t miss out. Speaking of “don’t miss out”, don’t miss seeing me this fall at the Las Vegas conferences, I look forward to seeing you there.

As a former Naval officer I am driven to produce results & to lead people to reach their full abilit Aviation, outdoors, tennis, running, weighli...
  • B
  • August 11, 2013
Great recap Kevin. This was a wonderful week of education and networking with some of the best in our space.
Hey Kevin thanks for the great recap of everything that went one. I especially enjoyed your analogy of sites utilizing big data, "Wanna have Sex with Data?". This is such a crucial subject has much to offer the auto shopper experience if we get it right on the dealer side. Use of customer information to enhance the shopper experience on a dealer website is on the horizon.
  • A
    Aaron Wirtz
  • August 12, 2013
Thanks for the fantastic recap, Kevin. My mind is still reeling with the depth of information we received at DSMV!
Great recap of an amazing event!!!  Cant wait to get caught up and start reevaluating our current strategies to make sure they are up to speed with future/current standards.
  • D
  • August 12, 2013
Thanks again for the awesome review and photos Kevin.
  • D
  • August 13, 2013
Be sure to check out the photo album - we just added more photos.
  • M
    Mike Haeg
  • August 14, 2013
As always, great recap Kevin!  Really enjoyed this one.  I gotta ask.....what kind of beer did Google serve up?
  • K
  • August 15, 2013
Google serves up the most relevant beer that you search for :)