Auto dealer websites are a primary resource for those who are in the market for a new vehicle. It’s no surprise that dealerships seek to optimize their websites and all the inbound ways to reach them in order to benefit from this traffic. Yet, dealers who limit themselves to tracking only online activity can find themselves missing out. Dealers work with many vendors across the web and digital advertising landscape, and currently each vendor feeds unique event and conversion data into Google Analytics. However, there currently are no standardized event and conversion naming conventions for the auto industry. Because these vendors produce both web events and phone events, there can be a blind spot if they don’t have a way to include both types of conversions in their Google Analytics tracking.
Universal Analytics (aka UA or GA3) Challenges in Auto
Measuring the impact of marketing spend is relatively easy when it comes to digital channels. One major challenge is that phone calls play a big role in the path to purchase for new vehicles and many dealership websites aren’t set up to measure their impact in terms of inbound calls generated. This may be due to the effort required to set up event tracking in GA3. In addition, many dealership websites do not track the impact of calls at all. When vendors set up events for tracking in GA3, they are typically unique, making it difficult to measure performance across channels.
Enter Google Analytics 4 – An Opportunity to Create a Standard for Interoperability, More Valuable Reporting and Sustainable Event Management
Google touts Google Analytics 4 as the new analytics service designed for the modern internet and mobile applications, with improved tracking, reporting, and insights over corresponding GA3 features, which will be deprecated on July 1, 2023. One of the main changes for digital marketing managers transitioning from GA3 to GA4 is the use of a different event structure, the goal of which is to better understand the complex multi-channel and multi-device customer journey. This change is expected to help advertisers optimize campaigns and define the critical events that should be tracked for advertising success.
Because GA3 will soon be sunset, now is the time to set the standard, before dealers and agencies have implemented unique Event Names and Event Parameters.
The Automotive Standards Council (ASC) is launched
The Automotive Standards Council is a group of more than 80 technology companies, ad agencies, OEMs and dealer groups who are working together to make sure all consumer engagement events are being tracked for GA4 implementations beginning in November 2022. The brainchild of automotive advocate Brian Pasch, the council is working to establish standard naming conventions for analytics events at dealerships. According to the Council page on the Brian Pasch Enterprise website,
“The automotive industry lacks any true standards for Universal Analytics (GA3) and we should not repeat this error.”
Conversation Outcomes Will Be Included in the ASC specs for GA4
As the customer journey has evolved over the past decade or so, call tracking platforms have also progressed. Marchex has firsthand experience with this, evolving from a provider of static call tracking numbers to a leader in voice and conversation analytics, including opportunity assessment, conversation outcomes and real-time alerts to missed opportunities.
Marchex is a founding member the ASC and its only conversation analytics provider
Since calls are important milestones in the customer journey, it’s essential that the industry creates standards around tracking call outcomes. By tracking phone call outcomes in GA4, tech platforms will have higher quality data to use in optimization algorithms. Dealers will have a much clearer picture of their return on ad spend (ROAS). The first company to commit to publishing these events into GA4 this fall is Marchex.
ASC Specification for GA4 to be released in November 2022
The Modern Retailing Conference (MRC) covers the future of the automotive industry, from retailing to marketing. This year’s event will take place in Palm Beach, Florida in mid-November, and the GA4 event specification standards will be released.
Marchex has developed a platform specifically for auto dealers called Marchex Engage for Automotive. If you would like to take it for a test drive and see how it can help you understand your call outcomes, prioritize leads and take action, schedule a demo.