Ingrid Spierts – Automotive MediaVentions

Ingrid Spierts – Automotive MediaVentions

Ingrid Spierts is Head of Marketing at Automotive MediaVentions, which is a joint venture between DPG Media and Mediahuis, the two biggest media groups in the Netherlands. Automotive MediaVentions has three separate brands: Gaspedaal, AutoTrack, and AutoWereld, which are online platforms facilitating car dealers to better serve the Dutch car buyer. Ingrid: “Having the two biggest competitors joining their forces to start Automotive MediaVentions, is truly special. For us, it means the luxury of having the reach of both media providers, their data, but also our freedom as we have our own independent management team, and don’t have the politics associated with big companies.”

Ingrid shares that it can be difficult for a scale-up with 60 people, to remain closely connected to its employees in these times: “What sets us apart as a company is how involved we are, and how much fun we have. We were looking for ways to keep in contact with employees, and how to make it a good time for new colleagues. So, we drive through the country and have ‘walks and talks’ with people from the teams, to make sure we see them at least once every few months. Having the time to get to know the person behind the employee, is very important.” Ingrid describes how their way of working has helped them through this period: “When the company first started, we introduced the Scrum-method, and we still benefit from it now. Every day we have a stand-up, every two weeks we have refinements where each member sets their goals, and two weeks later we have the retrospective, where you evaluate the last two weeks. What could have gone better, what should the team focus on more? Because you are working on such a structural level, you can really grasp where problems lie within the team, and it has certainly helped us in these times.”

Main KPIs for growth

When it comes to Automotive’s KPIs, Ingrid states they have developed a metric tree for the entire company: “I believe that when you focus on the bigger picture, you are better able to see the importance of every individual part of that picture. From the metric tree, we have drawn the most important KPIs per discipline and strategic goal. When it comes to marketing, every brand has different KPIs. Gaspedaal focuses on dealer clicks, AutoTrack on leads. Gaspedaal has a cost per click model, whilst AutoTrack works with leads who are ready to purchase a car from the dealer. Next to that, we have brand related KPIs. With Gaspedaal we focus on brand awareness, whilst with AutoTrack we focus on proposition awareness.”

“Creativity is about knowing your target group, understanding their problems, and making sure they receive the right things at the right moment during their purchase journey.”

“The first three months after we started, we delved into the consumer market, having many qualitative and quantitative conversations into the type of car buyers that there are”, Ingrid continues. “We divided them into four different segments, and decided to serve two of those really well: the analyst and the drifter. It is part of our DNA to know our target group, and understand that those target groups are different. The analyst is someone who does a lot of research, and analyses and compares all the information he has gathered in order to come to the right decision. We serve them through Gaspedaal. The drifter is someone who finds buying a car to be quite complex, finds it difficult to make decisions, does not want help, but secretly needs it. For this target group, we want to make everything a lot easier through AutoTrack. Our third and last brand, AutoWereld, is a free platform for dealers. Gaspedaal has all offers from car dealers in the Netherlands, and to make sure we keep that when certain dealers step out, we have AutoWereld. We also use AutoWereld to test certain new features or propositions that appear to be too risky for the business-to-business market, but we feel could be interesting for the consumer market. When it works, we have an argument towards the B2B market to implement it.” Ingrid carries on saying that Automotive works with the golden triangle, and act based on three elements: “Gut-feel, data, and user feedback. Based on these three elements we determine the strategic priorities, from which we ask our multidisciplinary teams to tackle an idea or problem. This is often a hypothesis, for instance; when we add price-analysis, people can make decisions easier and we will therefore sell more cars. Through design sprints, we ask the teams to learn if these hypotheses are accurate, usually finding the answer within a week and presenting it to the end-user. When something turns out to have potential, we will test it on AutoWereld. Based on this quantitative input we can uncover whether something will be successful or not.”

Knowing your target group

Automotive gathers a lot of feedback from their consumers. Ingrid: “Often, an agency comes up with an idea and everyone within the organisation has an opinion, whereafter you decide to launch it or not. But why wouldn’t we test, and ask the end-users for feedback on our concepts? Sure, agencies can come up with the idea, but whether it will be a hit among the end-user, remains anyone’s guess. It is about having a continuous process of feedback from the consumer to know if you are on the right track. I really believe in putting yourself in the shoes of those personas, and it can be about the smallest of things. For instance, the copy you use for SEO and SEA will appeal, or not appeal, totally different to analysts and drifters. To me, creativity is not just visual, it is also about the copy, the tone-of-voice, the right text length, and finding the right offer that fits that. It truly stands or falls with knowing your target group through and through. Otherwise, you will end up missing the mark completely. Creativity is about knowing your target group, understanding their problems, and making sure they receive the right things at the right moment during their purchase journey.”

The current climate

Ingrid shares how the car market has been positive despite the crisis: “After the initial drop in March, we actually had record months in the summer and September. People don’t have money for a new car, but they do have money for a second-hand car. People are also getting very creative, with many examples of people buying a car to work in. There are families with newborn babies where the main breadwinner must work from home. So, one man bought an old delivery van, and renovated it to be a corona proof office for two people, renting out the other half of the van to someone else. Another example is how we needed to get creative. During the first lockdown, we already had the idea of offering test drives at home. At first, traffic was coming in on the website, but nobody was booking it. But, after adding it to the filters and placing it in a different position on the Vehicle detail page, people started booking more and more. Now, 6 months later, with showrooms closed for the first time, we are receiving twice as many bookings. It is great to see how we are now benefiting from using a/b testing at the beginning of the year and being able to use that in a time where people can’t visit the dealer.”