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The Score: Automaker Sites

comScore Media Metrix
The Score: Automaker Sites comScore Media Metrix

Americans love their cars. Whether classically beautiful or less-than-flashy but efficient, cars make the American culture and the economy move forward. Automakers are luring consumers to their websites with unique offers and flashy advertising as numerous companies from around the world vie for a place in the heart of car-loving Americans. 

The number of visitors to the Automotive – Manufacturer category has increased 23 percent from 19.4 million in May 2004 to 23.8 million in May 2005. General Motors sites were the most visited among manufacturers in May 2005 with 7.9 million visitors, up 61 percent from May 2004. GM was followed by Ford Motor Company with 6.6 million visitors and DaimlerChrysler with 4.5 million visitors during May 2005.

Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 were 23 percent more likely than the average internet user to visit automotive manufacturer sites, according to May 2005 data. Those in the 35- to 44-year-old age bracket are likely visitors to auto sites because they have buying power due to increased income and financial security. This group is particularly focused on automotive safety information. According to comScore Media Metrix data from May 2005, people between 35 and 44 are 42 percent more likely than the average internet user to visit the site for GM’s OnStar, an in-vehicle communication system designed to assist drivers in case of emergency or other needs. For more general safety information, internet users in this age group are 52 percent more likely than the average internet user to view the National Transportation Safety Board site, which provides automobile safety data and information.

Meanwhile, visitation to sites in the Automotive – Manufacturer category among younger Americans is very different. An interesting example is Scion, a Toyota-owned brand of hip, customizable cars, which is drawing heavy interest in the 13-to 17-year-old age group. Although the majority of this age group are not even of driving age, those between the ages of 13 and 17 are 99 percent more likely to visit Scion.com than the average internet user. Scion’s online vehicle customization and targeted promotions have been successful in attracting younger consumers to the brand. Scion is drawing these individuals to its site by pushing the brand through unique sponsorships such as The Ultimate Fighting Championship and the National VGL Video Gaming Tournament.

The automotive market appeals to a broad range of people regardless of their age or interests. The category’s online experience tends to be more informative, rather than retail, in nature with automotive manufacturer sites designed with both aesthetics and information in mind. These sites are great examples of how interactive site features can capture the consumer. Some sites allow users to find the nearest dealership, check the inventory, estimate financing and even preview a customized car. Automobiles are among the most advertised products and the industry is doing a thorough job of drawing consumers to their sites through traditional media such as print, television and radio. Once captured, the well-organized, interactive and information-packed automotive manufacturer sites give consumers good reason to come back for more. 

About comScore Networks
comScore Networks provides unparalleled insight into consumer behavior and attitudes. This capability is based on a massive, global cross-section of more than two million consumers who have given comScore explicit permission to confidentially capture their browsing and transaction behavior, including online and offline purchasing. comScore panelists also participate in survey research that captures and integrates their attitudes and intentions. Through its patent-pending technology, comScore measures what matters across a broad spectrum of behavior and attitudes. comScore consultants apply this deep knowledge of customers and competitors to help clients design powerful marketing strategies and tactics that deliver superior ROI. comScore services are used by global leaders such as AOL, Yahoo!, Verizon, Best Buy, The Newspaper Association of America, Tribune Interactive, ESPN, Nestlé, Bank of America, Universal McCann, the United States Postal Service, GlaxoSmithKline and Orbitz.

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1. Make marketing cool again
In the old days, "advertising" had the cool factor of power, exclusivity and glamour. Have you seen the television show about advertising in the 1960s called Mad Men yet? Watch it and you'll get what I mean. As marketers and advertisers, we define our culture's hopes, fears, dreams and vanities. We're paid to make stuff up, to be creative.

Face it. We're unemployable in any other industry.

But agencies in general have lost their luster, and we're sometimes relegated to a fall-back plan for the best talent. The hottest talent knows where they want to go. If you're an engineer, you aim for Google. For operations people, you go work for a hedge fund. For creatives, you freelance, multi-lance or become your own brand. I could go on.

Who aspires to work for an agency these days?

We need to make working for an agency cool again. We need to foster a sense of entrepreneurship and give our folks the means to follow their passions and pet-projects within agency walls. At Organic, we've set up a lab environment where great ideas can see the light of day, even if there is no client directly attached to them. We have a long history of doing this with much success.

2. Look beyond the usual conscripts
Let's get back to the game of musical chairs. At the top of the talent pool, there is a small group of very gifted people jumping from agency to agency. This doesn't do any of us any good, as inbred talent means inbred ideas. It's stifling.

For this reason, and others that I'll mention shortly, we need to broaden the candidate pool. At Organic, we're actively reaching out and finding fruitful pockets of previously undiscovered talent. For example, we are hiring account folks from traditional agencies and training them in the digital medium. We're stretching our immigration lawyers thin by actively recruiting talent from far off places like South Africa, Brazil and Eastern Europe. We have someone 100 percent dedicated to managing our diversity and college recruiting programs.

Since so much of what we do is built around an empathetic connection to the consumer, it's vitally important that agencies not only represent the consumers that we're trying to reach, but also bring in people who have unique and fresh perspectives to offer.

3. Market your agency like your clients market to their customers
Recruiting, as we all usually think of it, is not just a function of the human resources department. Bringing people through the interview process and closing the deal is relatively easy. The toughest part is reaching the right people -- a very sophisticated and thoughtful audience -- and encouraging them to take the leap to your agency. Use your marketing and campaign skills and the digital medium to attract them.

For example, at Organic we have two blogs that have done a great job of not only showcasing our thought leadership, but also giving candidates a peek into our culture. We have MySpace and Facebook profiles. We are cooking up some interesting online campaign ideas, targeted around highly prized disciplines and skills.

The shoemaker's children line just doesn't cut it anymore. Use your skills to market your agency.

4. Go back to school
Most young adults are digitally addicted. They have 10 IM windows open (splayed neatly over their MySpace and Facebook pages), three text message strings in play on their phone, and their Xbox is on pause because they are watching an episode of "Lost" on their video iPod.

OK, this is probably an exaggeration, but not by much.

The internet is something that they learn outside of school. It's an integral part of their community and culture. They are passionate about participating in it and exploring the next new thing. In fact, they would probably exhibit withdrawal symptoms if they were suddenly "unplugged."

The important question that we should be asking ourselves is why aren't colleges and universities teaching digital skills and how they apply in business? What could be more lucrative or useful?

Today's graduates are completely switched on, but lack the degree or formal training necessary to place them straight into agency roles. We need to reinvestigate the idea of cultivating "feeder schools" with more formal internship programs, guest speaker programs and classes and/or degrees, particularly at the more prestigious schools. 

Let's all go back to school, to volunteer our time and teach so that we can grow the next crop of talent.

5. Get real
Our industry is a victim of its own success. Yes, the demand for our services is high, and you would think that we could ask clients for a king's ransom, but this just isn't true. Rate pressure is an ever-present reality in our business and procurement offices remind us of that every day.

The war for talent only complicates this already challenging issue.

The final analysis
Do great work for great clients. Everything above is moot unless your agency is committed to exceptional work. This is -- and will always be -- the greatest recruiting tool of them all.

Besides, we all know that happy people make great work, and great work translates into happy clients. The key is making people your first priority and fighting for them, every step of the way. 

Instead of fighting over the Ted's of the world, let's grow our own.

Shane Ginsberg is executive director, global business development, for Organic. Read full bio.


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