What’s New with Attribution, and How Does It Affect Automotive Marketing?

July 12th, 2023

In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, staying up to speed with the latest developments is key to staying ahead of the competition. This is particularly true in the automotive industry, where the customer journey can be complex, spanning multiple online and offline touchpoints. One area that has seen significant changes recently is attribution—the process of identifying which marketing efforts are driving leads and conversions. These changes are transforming the way we understand and optimize the car buyer’s journey.

In this post, we’ll delve into some of the major changes in attribution over the past six months, including Facebook’s response to Apple’s iOS 14 update, Google Ads’ shift to data-driven attribution, and the new capabilities introduced with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Whether you’re a seasoned automotive marketer or new to the industry, this post will help you navigate these changes and leverage them to improve your marketing strategy.

Facebook Attribution Has Changed

Due to the Apple iOS 14 update, Facebook’s ability to track user activities has been limited. For example, if a customer views a car ad on Facebook and later visits the dealership’s website to make an inquiry, this sequence might not be fully tracked. This could potentially disrupt the understanding of how effective Facebook ads are in the early stages of the car buyer’s journey, where customers are just beginning to research and consider different options.

However, it also provides an opportunity to rethink and refine their marketing strategies. Here are a few ways to make the best of this change:

  1. Diversify Your Marketing Channels. With Facebook’s tracking capabilities limited, it’s a good idea to not put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your marketing efforts across multiple channels like Google Ads, SEO, email marketing, and more. This can help ensure that you’re reaching your audience in various ways, compensating for any potential loss from Facebook’s changes.
  2. Focus on First-Party Data. With third-party cookies becoming less reliable, first-party data is now more valuable than ever. Encourage website visitors to fill out forms, subscribe to newsletters, or create accounts to gather this data. You can use this information to personalize your marketing efforts and build stronger relationships with your customers.
  3. Invest in Content. Quality content can attract and engage potential car buyers without relying on extensive tracking. Create informative blog posts, videos, guides, and other content that can help potential customers during their car buying journey.
  4. Use Facebook’s Conversions API. The Conversions API allows you to share key web and offline events, or customer actions, directly from your server to Facebook’s. This bypasses browsers entirely, which can help mitigate the impact of the iOS 14 update on your Facebook ad campaigns.
  5. Adopt a Privacy-First Approach. The changes to Facebook’s attribution are largely driven by increasing concerns about user privacy. By adopting a privacy-first approach, you can build trust with your audience. Be transparent about how you collect and use data, and ensure you’re complying with all relevant privacy laws and regulations.

While the Facebook attribution change may initially seem like a setback, it can serve as a catalyst for evolving and improving your automotive marketing strategies. 

Google Ads Attribution Is Different Too

Google moved from last-click attribution to data-driven attribution. In the context of a car buyer’s journey, this means that all touchpoints will now be considered. For instance, a potential car buyer might first see a Google search ad, then read a blog post on the dealership’s website, and finally click on a retargeting ad before making an inquiry. With data-driven attribution, credit will be given to each of these touchpoints, providing a more holistic view of what led to the conversion, instead of attributing the success solely to the final retargeting ad.

Google’s shift from last-click attribution to data-driven attribution is a significant change, but it presents several opportunities for automotive marketers. Here’s how you can use this change to your advantage:

  1. Understand the Full Customer Journey. The move to data-driven attribution means that Google Ads will now consider all touchpoints in the customer journey, not just the last click. This gives you a more holistic view of how customers interact with your brand, helping you understand which channels and tactics are driving awareness and consideration, not just the final conversion.
  2. Optimize Budget Allocation. With a better understanding of the full customer journey, you can make more informed decisions about where to allocate your marketing budget. For example, if you find that certain keywords or campaigns are often involved early in the customer journey, you might decide to invest more in these areas, even if they don’t often lead directly to conversions.
  3. Fine-Tune Your Marketing Messages. By seeing how customers interact with different touchpoints along their journey, you can fine-tune your messaging to better meet their needs at each stage. For instance, if you notice that customers who see a particular display ad are more likely to later convert through a search ad, you might decide to align the messaging of these two ads more closely.
  4. Improve Remarketing Strategies. Data-driven attribution can also enhance your remarketing efforts. By understanding the role that different touchpoints play in the customer journey, you can create more effective remarketing campaigns that target customers based on their previous interactions with your brand.
  5. Leverage Machine Learning. Data-driven attribution uses machine learning to assign credit to different touchpoints. This can help you uncover insights that you might miss with a more manual analysis, giving you an edge over competitors.

By embracing Google’s move to data-driven attribution, automotive marketers can gain a deeper understanding of the customer journey, make smarter budget decisions, and create more effective marketing campaigns.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) Attribution Has Gone Live

GA4 provides more sophisticated insights into user behavior. For example, GA4 can track a potential car buyer across multiple devices, so if a customer first browses the dealership website on their phone, then later on a desktop, GA4 would recognize this as the same user. This cross-device tracking provides a more complete picture of the car buyer’s journey.

However, the transition to GA4 might introduce some challenges you haven’t considered yet. For instance, metrics might not align perfectly between Universal Analytics and GA4, and marketers may need to learn new skills to fully utilize the capabilities of GA4.

While these changes aim to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the car buyer’s journey, they also present new challenges. Marketers will need to adapt their strategies and familiarize themselves with these new tools and models to effectively track where their leads are coming from.

Is it all too much? We’re here to help. Attributely can decipher what all the data means and give you the best opportunities to succeed with your automotive marketing. Learn more or sign up for a demo when you contact us today.

Looking for Something?



Recent Blog Posts

Still Curious?

Let's Connect

We’d love to help you exceed your sales and marketing goals.