Take a look at the teaser for the all new Acura TLX. We are thrilled to have this amazing car in New York!
Alignment from Honda and Acura regarding paid search advertising at the Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 Level. The article below from David Barkholz outlines the latest details surrounding the strategy.
Honda dealers are endorsing factory plans to increase spending next year for digital advertising.
The plans were detailed at the 2014 Honda Dealer Advertising Conference held June 24-25 in Las Vegas, according to documents obtained by Automotive News.
The dealers also welcome new guidelines from Honda and Acura designed to prevent dealers from competing with the factory for the same ad positions on Google search results.
In 2015, Honda Divisionintends to increase its digital ad spending to 24 percent of its total ad budget from 18 percent in 2014, said three people who attended a presentation on the Honda ad budget at the conference.
Meantime, the money will come out of TV ad spending, which dips to 72 percent of the total ad budget from 78 percent in 2014. Print and radio spending remains at 2 percent each, the people said.
Honda spokeswoman Jessica Howell declined to comment on the new plans for digital advertising, saying the conference and documents were confidential.
Honda Division in the United States spent $662 million on traditional media, including TV, in 2013, according to Advertising Age, a sister publication of Automotive News. The figure excludes digital advertising.
Rob Sabbagh, vice president of Bay Ridge Honda in New York City and president of the 61-store Tri Honda ad group, said the boost in the digital budget makes sense given that more than 90 percent of car shoppers research and comparison shop online.
Tri Honda is a regional ad group in the New York area that gets about $40 million annually from Honda for advertising based on 1 percent of the invoice price of vehicles sold by Honda dealers in the market. Honda has numerous such Tier 2 dealer ad associations around the country funded the same way.
Sabbagh said another key item at the conference was Honda’s clarification of how the factory, Honda and Acuradealers, and dealer associations should bid for Google advertising.
To get advertising position on Google, where the top three positions are critical to being noticed, businesses can bid several dollars for a single important search word, such as “Honda.”
The top bidder gets top position on search results.
When Honda and Acura dealers bid against the factory for the same words or phrases, they just raise the price for the advertising without improving ad position, said Sean Wolfington, a partner in Tier10 Marketing, an ad agency that manages digital advertising for dealers and dealer ad associations.
“It’s inefficient,” he said.
So at the conference, Honda and Acura executives detailed a “swim lane” strategy, whereby they asked that dealers and associations refrain from bidding on five specific phrases for each brand and leave those phrases exclusively for the factory, Wolfington said.
According to a confidential Honda and Acura document obtained by Automotive News from a dealer not quoted in this story, those factory-specific phrases are Honda, Honda.com, Honda USA, Honda Cars and Honda Auto.
For Acura, the phrases are Acura, Acura.com, Acura USA, Acura Cars and Acura Auto, the document said.
Brian Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura in New York City, said bidding for keywords such as Honda and Honda.com can cost $4 every time a shopper clicks on the dealer’s or factory ad on Google.
The cost is closer to $1.50 per click when dealers stick to so-called longer-tail phrases to get good, though likely not top, Google ad position.
A longer-tail phrase might be “2014 Honda Accord lease payments,” said Wolfington, whose Tier10 company consults for Paragon.
Ideally, a Honda shopper who looks for information on Google will see the factory with the top ad position, the regional dealer association in the second spot and a Honda dealer in the third, Benstock said.
As a rule of thumb, the first ad position on a Google search page yields twice as many clicks as the second position. And the third position yields half as many as the second.
Google ads appear as links with an ad label above free organic search links and also on the right side of a Google search page.
Sabbagh said he was heartened that Honda held the conference to communicate its strategy so the New York dealer association and its individual dealers could align their digital strategies with that of the factory.
Several dealers were nervous that the Google swim lane strategy was going to be imposed on the dealers. Instead, Honda and Acura made it voluntary, according to the confidential document.
You can reach David Barkholz at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Follow David on and
Woodside, NY – Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura hosted a group of dealers from Japan who were visiting to understand how dealerships operate in large metro markets in the US. The group was specifically interested in learning how the Paragon handled staffing, advertising, and vehicle service.
During the visit, the group received an overview of the Paragon operations and was able to tour the facilities and ask questions to the team about their daily work habits. Below is a picture of the group during their visit.
This review from Car and Driver gives a great overview of a car that is going to be a great edition to the Acura line up.
- AUGUST 2014
- BY ALEXANDER STOKLOSA
But this all plays second fiddle to the driving. Cycle the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) button on the center console to its Sport or Sport+ settings, and the car’s inner first-gen TSX comes out—it positively begs to be ridden hard and put away wet. The electric power steering weights up, P-AWS works harder to swing the front-drive TLX’s tail through corners, and the throttle response is much spicier. In SH-AWD models, which lack P-AWS for obvious reasons, Acura’s magical torque-vectoring rear differential shuffles power to the outside rear wheel more aggressively to quell understeer.
Sport+ ups the ante with a unique and track-worthy shift logic; regardless of transmission, gears are held until redline, upshifts are cracked off with surprising firmness, and the transmission’s brain telepathically delivers perfectly rev-matched downshifts. The dual-clutch’s shifts are quicker, but the nine-speed reminds us of the excellent eight-cog ZF 8HP that sees duty in many of this car’s competitors, so it’s no slouch. (In manual mode, both ’boxes automatically upshift at redline.) When the IDS is toggled to Normal or Econ, the transmissions shift smoothly but diligently, quickly shuffling through the lower gears to maximize fuel economy. Throttle response is more subdued; the steering takes on a friendly, lighter disposition; and P-AWS and SH-AWD favor stability over agility. Econ mode further dials back the throttle and reins in the climate control to save fuel.
Even in the more workaday IDS settings, the TLX retains its composure when driven hard, never keeling over onto its outside front tire in tight corners. The steering lacks ultimate tactility but is amiably linear, and the brake pedal’s stroke is firm and easily modulated after an initial half-inch of fluff. The sweet-sounding four-cylinder is the most chuckable TLX, while the front-drive V-6 model feels a bit more nose-heavy and prone to torque steer. The V-6–only SH-AWD model hammers through bendy roads on a wave of torque and brute torque-vectored force.
The Choice Is Yours—But Mostly Acura’s
In typical Honda/Acura style, the TLX is offered with a small, curated batch of option groups masquerading as trim levels. A Tech package is offered on the 2.4L and front-drive 3.5L cars (it’s standard on the SH-AWD), while a more comprehensive Advanced package is available on V-6 versions. (For a full breakdown of what these packages include, see our pricing analysis.) Every model comes with a pile of standard equipment that includes heated front seats, full-LED headlamps and taillights, paddle shifters, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a sunroof.
In replacing the TSX and the TL, Acura has crafted a better car using the finest attributes of both. If you can live without rear-wheel drive, a manual transmission, or the fanciest badges, the TLX makes a very compelling case. Its case is made stronger yet when you consider its high level of sport and luxury features plus the fact that BMW will charge you $60K to get much of it in a 3-series.
Overall, the TLX is a satisfying and overdue return to the engineering and dynamic greatness long associated with Honda’s luxury brand. The three available configurations have their own distinct personalities and offer value at their respective price points, but if forced to choose, we’d hit the sheets with the V-6 SH-AWD model, wed the excellent 2.4L TLX, and (regrettably) kill the front-drive V-6 iteration. If Acura isn’t fully back, it’s damn close with this car. View Photo Gallery
Brian gave his perspective in a recent Automotive News article that examined the growing trend of rising phone leads and plummeting Internet leads. Here is the full article;
Dealers’ phones ring again
Rise in calls spurs more sales training
Automotive News | July 21, 2014 – 12:01 am EST
It’s back to the future for car shoppers, who now much prefer to contact dealerships with an old-fashioned phone call rather than via the Internet.
Two years ago, Internet sales leads were gaining on phone leads, dealers and digital marketing vendors say. But ubiquitous smartphones changed all that.
“Our phone calls are going through the roof,” said Mark Holian, general manager of Gulf Coast Auto Park’s Ford, Nissan and Toyota stores 40 minutes from Houston.
Today, most car buyers carry smartphones. And it’s easier to use a click-to-call phone link in a dealership ad than fill out a Web site information form or send an e-mail, said Holian, whose stores sold 304 new and used vehicles in May.
Holian is among many dealership managers who have beefed up phone sales training and call monitoring.
Phone leads are up 46 percent vs. Internet leads over the past two years, according to data compiled this month for Automotive News by ADP Digital Marketing, a unit of ADP Dealer Services.
This spring, phone calls outpaced e-mail or form leads by a 4-1 ratio vs. 2-1 in January 2013, said Max Steckler, vice president for advertising and business intelligence at ADP Digital Marketing. Phone calls have skyrocketed while form leads have been relatively flat over that period.
ADP Digital Marketing provides Web sites and digital marketing services to about 10,000 U.S. dealerships, Steckler said. The unit also is widely known as Cobalt, the company’s name before it was bought in 2010 by ADP. Leads are phone calls or e-mail requests for more information.
Steckler said e-mail leads were relatively more popular two years ago because senders felt they could control the interaction with salespeople and use the relative anonymity of the conversation to resist being rushed to buy.
But the click-to-call choices on mobile Web sites are making phone calls easier for consumers. And that’s good for salespeople, who prefer phone calls to e-mails.
“Phone calls are better,” Steckler said. “They make it quicker to ascertain what a consumer really wants.”
According to Google, 35 percent of car buyers in 2013 used a smartphone or other mobile device to find information about vehicles vs. 26 percent in 2012 and just 6 percent in 2011.
Google, the world’s dominant search engine, offers an option to dealerships and other businesses that allows shoppers to simply click on a phone link in a Google ad to call a store, said Lindsay Schultz, Google’s head of industry, auto dealerships.
The feature, which doesn’t cost extra, is popular with mobile shoppers, Schultz said. Seventy percent of people who use Google to shop or search for businesses with mobile devices use the click-to-call function, she said.
Schultz said some people use the click-to-call function while shopping on dealer lots. Click-to-callers “need an accelerated path to connect with the dealer,” she said.
Holian said the growth in phone leads is roughly tracking the surge in car shoppers using smartphones.
In May, his three stores had 150 leads from phone calls vs. 116 from e-mails, he said. Two years ago in the same month, e-mail leads outnumbered phone leads 147 to 59, he said.
Holian said the stores’ digital marketing vendor, Local Search Group, has used Google’s click-to-call feature to drive much of that phone traffic.
Those phone calls are contributing to higher vehicle sales, he said. The 304 vehicles sold in May were up from 232 sold the previous May and 212 units in May 2012.
But the handling of the calls has required some back-to-basics sales training, Holian said.
As phone calls mounted, Gulf Coast Auto Park hired vendor CallRevu to monitor calls and flag management when they were mishandled, Holian said. A mishandled call means customer information wasn’t gathered or the salesperson failed to ask for an appointment, he said.
In one incident, a salesperson quoted a caller a retail price on a car that should have been quoted at an Internet price $2,500 lower, Holian said.
After being notified, Holian said, he called the customer, offered the right price and found a different salesperson to take the customer through the purchase.
Holian said salespeople taking phone calls need to study store inventory so they are prepared to talk on the fly about the products and alternatives to a customer’s initial preference.
A Kodak moment
At Paragon Honda in New York City, the 30 people in the business development center are scheduling in-store appointments on 70 percent of the phone calls they receive, said General Manager Brian Benstock. In May, the store sold 623 new vehicles and 346 used.
Benstock said Paragon Honda receives three phone calls for every Internet lead as smartphone use explodes. He said consumers want information instantly, and calling is the quickest way to get it.
He likened the change in auto leads to what happened to Kodak, whose film business was decimated by digital photography. With digital cameras, shooters get images instantly without the delay of film development.
He said the prevailing attitude is “let’s get there as quick as possible.”
The convenience of smartphones is just part of the reason auto shoppers are increasingly abandoning e-mail, said Joe Webb, president of DealerKnows, an Internet sales training consultant.
Webb said dealerships still take an average of four hours to respond to Internet leads with a custom response vs. the ideal response time of 20 minutes or less. Consequently, shoppers have been conditioned to bypass Internet or e-mail leads and just call directly, he said.
If dealerships drop the ball on phone leads as they generally have on Internet leads, he said, they’ll see shoppers give up on phones, too, and just walk in without giving salespeople any time to prepare for them.
Webb said, “As dealerships, we just have not done a good enough job of expediting the processing of leads.”