The YouTube page for Rosenthal Automotive in Reston, Va., has attracted a regular following of nearly 50,000 subscribers. The dealership’s staff constantly uploads new videos of test drives, reviews and more.

The YouTube page for Rosenthal Automotive in Reston, Va., has attracted a regular following of nearly 50,000 subscribers. The dealership’s staff constantly uploads new videos of test drives, reviews and more.

It may be somewhat far-fetched to think a car dealer will be the next Justin Bieber-caliber YouTube sensation, but there’s no reason dealerships can’t extend their reach by creating content that is worthy of going viral — or at least capturing some of the eyes watching more than six billion hours’ worth of YouTube videos every month.

Google’s Lindsay Schultz, head of industry for automotive, shares her take on what she’s seeing across the automotive vertical space on the Google-owned YouTube — what type of content dealers should post, where to promote and how to measure their return on investment.
ADM: What do you recommend in terms of content for a dealer who’s using YouTube for the first time?



Schultz: Many dealers already have existing TV commercials, so a great place to start is to upload your existing video content onto your YouTube channel. This will extend the reach of these TV ads. In research we conducted with Nielsen last year, we found that 25 percent of people who watch your ad on YouTube will not have seen it on TV in the U.S.

ADM: How about for a more advanced YouTuber?

Schultz: There’s a lot of opportunity to create short videos specifically for YouTube. Videos that showcase your new cars, customer testimonials, community involvement or tips-and-tricks videos on service opportunities can be incredibly successful [in terms of] drawing an audience to your channel. For example, you could do a video about “Is it time to get your tires rotated? Here are a few tests you can perform. If you don’t pass the test, stop into the dealership today, reference this video and get 10 percent off your service.”

ADM: In February, on the YouTube Ads Leaderboard, four out of the Top 10 marketers were automotive brands. How can car dealers take advantage of the fact that people are attracted to this topic? 

Schultz: It’s clear that the YouTube community is interested in car-related content, so it’s a great place for dealers to connect with consumers and build on that interest. February in particular was a big month for auto brands, because of all of the excitement around the Super Bowl commercials. In-market vehicle shoppers watch a variety of content on YouTube; they go online to watch video to be inspired, entertained and educated. That’s why many, many automotive brands use YouTube, from the major car manufacturers to local dealers to service and repair shops.

ADM: How does YouTube content impact a dealer’s Google search results?

Schultz: Any videos they post on YouTube will also be discoverable in search, giving consumers another way to connect with their business.

ADM: In addition to your TrueView and re-targeted ads, how do you recommend dealers get their videos out there?

Schultz: With more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s not enough to just post your content to YouTube.You need to promote it to ensure that the right people see your videos at the right time.

ADM: How do you suggest that dealers measure their return on investment when it comes to YouTube campaigns?

Schultz: We’ve seen that YouTube can be incredibly impactful on driving sales for dealers, as well as generating broader awareness for brands. For example, we found that 30 percent of car buyers were prompted to start shopping after seeing an online video ad, and 61 percent of auto purchasers visited a dealership after viewing an auto video.

When measuring success with video, rather than looking at click-through conversions as we do with search ad campaigns, we recommend a different set of metrics to help you fully understand the value of video. First, view rate or video completion rate, which is the percentage of viewers who watch your video to completion. Also look at view-through conversion, meaning the percentage of viewers who watch your video and then take another action such as visit your website. Then see if you have an increase in brand searches, website visits and dealership visits.