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Buying a car these days often involves extensive online research before visiting a physical dealership.

That’s a key reason why attribution has been difficult for auto dealers, says car marketing platform PureCars, which released a sales attribution/business intelligence platform this week that it says is the first one to fully track the path from online research to dealership visit.

Called Signal Pro, it is complementary to PureCars’ existing Smart Advertising marketing automation platform for dealerships, which enables multi-channel campaigns. CEO Sam Mylrea said clients can use Signal Pro in conjunction with Smart Advertising, or separately.

The challenge. Mylrea said that car purchases present a unique attribution problem, because buyers typically spend so much of the pre-purchase time conducting research online, with a physical trip only in the last stage of test driving, final negotiation and purchase. In other words, the funnel dynamic is particular to this industry.

A solution. Signal Pro gets a feed from the inventory management system of its clients, about 3,000 dealerships in the US. It tracks user activity at dealer websites, engagement activity with ads run by its client dealerships, and, via third-party data services, engagement and impression data on car-related ads that are run by others, like auto makers.

When a user goes to a dealer web site or views one of the ads, PureCars is able to match the user to a cross-device graph, which employs IP addresses and other indicators to match anonymous users to persistent identifiers, like phone numbers. Those identifiers then help match the customer who walks into a physical showroom and buys or leases a car to an ad engagement or a site visit.

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Previously, Mylrea said, his company could track ad campaign engagement, as well as specific attribution signals like a user filling out a contact form or a user calling a specific phone number. Now, he said, Signal Pro enables dealers to link the online research to the physical purchase, and also predict where each customer is in the buying cycle. Mylrea claims Signal Pro can accurately tie about 80 percent of dealership purchases to the relevant marketing or advertising impetus.

Why you should care. While other attribution services similarly offer multi-point attribution, including linkages between online marketing and offline purchases, Mylrea said Signal Pro is the first specifically tied into dealer inventories and designed for auto purchases.

Given that cars are generally consumers’ second-biggest purchase after homes, knowing which ad spend or site content impacted sales can be a valuable piece of the marketing puzzle.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.


About The Author

Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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