On the first day of the Automotive Analytics & Attribution Summit, host Brian Pasch asked a blunt question: do you trust the data and reports from your third-party analytics vendors? Most of the attendees – key decision makers of dealer groups — said they do not.

It’s clear from the AAAS 2017 event that the industry continues to struggle with an analytics and attribution problem. And Day One of AAAS amounted to a call to action for dealerships, third-party endemic sites, and the industry at large to work together on a solution to attribution — which is no small feat in a competitive landscape riddled with last-click and single source tools, mindsets, and reports.

After Pasch polled the attendees, he referenced a November 2017 PCG survey of more than 250 dealership managers noting more than 60 percent of automotive mangers do not trust their analytics reports[i], citing delayed reporting, limited training, and a lack of standards as a few of the top reasons for the scrutiny. If every source of information is telling an incomplete story, how do dealers make informed marketing decisions? The first day of AAAS framed the very real risks of managing a marketing budget with significant blind spots. The themes of the day were threefold, and poignant in their persistence and delivery from speakers and attendees:

It’s Time to (Truly) Embrace Data

Embracing data goes beyond reporting or the use of data to a desired end, or to validate a preconceived point-of-view. Truly embracing data requires a cultural shift. For example, it’s no longer enough to look to vanity metrics such as VDPs and email lead form submissions; rather, we need to look at engagements to distinguish quality over quantity (because, as one attendee pointed out, VDPs alone have been compromised).

It’s Time to Refresh Industry Metrics

Questions were raised on our use, or misuse, of common tools — for example:

  • Do we measure the success of our marketing spend by inputs into the CRM?
  • Is the CRM a marketing tool at all?
  • Are we categorizing “leads” in the right way?
  • Are we looking beyond the last click in Google Analytics?

There was a lot of discussion about the need to include more than last-touch metrics into the CRM, as much as there’s a need to find a new solution altogether for reporting on attribution. And are we fully optimizing the customization of analytics providers such as Google Analytics? Although these are classic examples of common tools used by dealers it became clear that use and understanding of these is far from standard.

It’s Time to Create a New Industry Standard

The third main theme was directed at the partners and services in the room: it’s time to come together for the greater good of the broader automotive community. And this last theme really captured the spirit of the day.

A common refrain I heard was this: what communal benefit would be realized if dealerships, endemics and technology solution providers all participated in creating, and ever-evolving, a better attribution model? I heard the industry presenters and panelists throughout the day issue some common challenges:

  • Partners must move towards transparency of data and take up the fight for the dealers’ ability to increase advertising effectiveness.
  • Dealers must scrutinize current methods of valuation, and the tools they use, and be open to new technologies and solutions.

There’s only one solution for insufficient reporting and a lack of insights: the automotive industry needs to cooperate and define new standards to create the data connections needed to fuel industry growth.

[i] Brian Pasch, Automotive Analytics & Attribution Summit, November 7, 2017.