WHAT DOES LOTLINX MEAN BY “OMNI-CHANNEL?”
One of the most frequently asked questions we get at LotLinx is, “Where do my ads appear?” Well, answering that is both simple and complicated:
Simple answer – Everywhere that matters. Basically, anywhere the right shopper may be online. We’ve trained our technology to place VIN specific ads in the final moments in which buyers are behaving like they’ve narrowed their top choices down to a single VIN. So, it’s not as much a question of, “where” – but instead, “when.”
As described in Automotive News, Machines Drive New Marketing Efforts:
LotLinx focuses on customers deeper in the buying process because, for instance, a dealership that advertises a Chevrolet Tahoe to a consumer because he or she searched for it early in the shopping process won’t convert that spending into a sale if that customer later opts for a different SUV. “What we’ve been able to do is get materially better at understanding when people are in that moment,” Short said. “A lot of people are saying, ‘Well, they went here, and they looked at that, and therefore we should show them ads about this.’ But the problem with that is there are a lot of false signals, and there’s a lot of waste in that.”
More complicated answer – Search, Social, Youtube, Display and Native Proprietary Integrations into Automotive Web Publications across 70+ publishers, with a combined reach of 65+million shoppers – more than any other single source in the automotive industry.
Think of it this way: LotLinx /AI/ is a musical conductor. (In fact the technology we have created to do this we call “The Conductor”!) Each instrument is a channel, and each symphony is customized for each vehicle.
We use years of learnings and patented technologies to fuel an AI that predicts which shoppers will have the most interest in each vehicle. We deliver those shoppers directly to the dealer’s site, at a cost and efficiency level unmatched by any other solution in existence. It’s taken us over 10 years to perfect, and it gets smarter (and more proprietary) every day. And I am proud to say we have still to this day never lost a publisher.
THE FULL ANSWER…
In the early 2000’s, it became very clear to me that Google had changed the web landscape forever. At that time, I was running several digital publications that saw many successes, often followed by losses every time Google changed their algorithm.
That’s when my business partner and I decided to get into a line of work that had a long term trajectory – and automotive was the space that needed it most.
We had a technological advantage and “secret weapon,” which was our ability to generate traffic. Our game plan was to bring this cumulative knowledge and skill to the automotive industry. From there, we launched Lemonfree.com, and within three years we were generating over two million unique shoppers per month. Compare that to Cars.com, which was generating an estimated 4MM/month* at that time. And that was with ten people and side projects.
*2010 Cars.com shoppers estimated using latest published amount from 2012 by SEM Rush
Even though we were producing massive traffic and lead-generating supported by ads, especially considering there were only 10 of us, we knew something was missing.
In December of 2011, I met Len Short and Rob Vucic. They were founders of a website called Chug.net, which differed from other automotive listing sites at the time, because all of the vehicle listings directed to the VDP of the vehicle.
It was an amazing idea. No more leads. Leads sucked. Leads sucked for consumers who had to provide personal information to obtain more information and become someone that was to purchase. Leads made the purchaser endure using an in-between, relentless call from multiple dealers and finance companies and were declining as purchasers became reluctant to submit personal information. Leads sucked for dealers because a lead was submitted to multiple dealers. Multiple dealers calling a consumer meant they were alienating a potential purchaser or dealing with a price shopper.
At the same time, Google had proven the pay-per-click business model had legs and was well on its way to becoming the most valuable company in the world, powered by clicks. They had no interest in generating leads – why would they? Everyone was building their own website, and they could have the consumer sent directly there.
That’s when I proposed to Len that we build the machine that would get the traffic, and he would build the machine to integrate with the dealers. We agreed on a handshake to join forces, and the rest is history.
THE FORMULA TO OUR SECRET (PATENTED) SAUCE –
Which I share at this time because it is impossible to ever replicate. Our technology team of 35+ individuals includes talent from many countries including China, India, Philippines, South Africa, Brazil, Germany, Poland, and – of course – US and Canada.
We officially started with native integrations into automotive websites in 2011, then evolved to Programmatic Display in 2014, SEM and Youtube in 2015, and Social in 2016.
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty (because that would take a while) but here’s a high-level overview of the development process, with each stage taking an average 12-24 months to complete:
Install a uniform web analytics tracking system and bot filtering technology.
Create a system that would automate hundreds of thousands of VIN-level micro-campaigns at once.
Build Pacing technology to deliver high quality and quantity of shoppers, to every VDP.
Elevate performance with AI that predicts the best outcomes at scale… using almost 400 billion proprietary data records.
Our omni-channel ensures that the VIN specific campaigns are getting what they need. Making sure to balance the voices, like some of our small, yet mighty, affiliates have a voice on a VIN Campaign, as much as the beasts like Google and Facebook. In other words, the cymbal matters as much as the bass drum.
LotLinx technologies use feedback data of known shopping behavior from a uniform Google Analytics installation on each dealer to produce a predictive model of shopper intensity, and then deploys.
SO, WHAT’S NEXT?
Our technologies stand to be the tool that deploys automotive dealers into a future that allows for less time spent managing digital marketing campaigns, and more time doing what we all love – the car business.
Over the next few years, LotLinx will be dedicated to creating time-and-money-saving tools that cut as many middle men as possible. I am confident that we can build our systems to become an all-encompassing inventory marketing solution for our dealers.
General Manager of Product and Technology, LotLinx
Lance Schafer joined LotLinx in 2015 and currently serves as the General Manager of Product and Technology.
In this role, Lance leads the company’s product and technology teams in the creation of valuable products for the automotive digital marketing industry. Combining his digital marketing and software development expertise, Lance introduced machine learning to LotLinx’s massive ad network.
Lance came to LotLinx following a 20-year career managing investment opportunities in the technology and digital media spaces. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, Lance has been CEO and Co-Founder of many business ventures, including co-founding LemonFree.com – a comprehensive online automotive shopping and research marketplace.
Lance is based in Winnipeg, Canada and has a Business Degree from the University of Manitoba.
As seen in: DrivingSales, Auto Remarketing
Presented at: DealerTalk Canada, DrivingSales Executive Summit, J.D. Power AMR