Announcing Strathcom Media’s New President: Bill Warren

I am thrilled to announce the promotion of Bill Warren to President of Strathcom Media. This well-deserved promotion is a logical next step for Bill, as he has played a vital role in Strathcom’s success since 1999.

Bill Warren, Strathcom Media's new PresidentBill has been with Strathcom for nearly 18 years, working first as the Company Controller, then Product Development Manager, and then for the last 8 years as the V.P of Operations, so he has truly seen everything. Bill’s ability over the years to build and be a part of a first-class management team has led to the transformation of our products and customer service here at Strathcom Media. He has also been a pioneer in the online automotive space.

As President, Bill will continue to be committed to the success of Strathcom’s dealer clients and manufacturer partners. Under Bill’s leadership Strathcom will maintain an aggressive development plan to help bring the latest technology to the Canadian Automotive Vertical for Dealers.

So, if Bill is the President now, what does that mean for me? Well, I am excited to be taking on a new and exciting role as the Vice President of Marketing for the Go Auto group. This was an extremely difficult decision for me given the tremendous success we have seen at Strathcom, but one that is right for both my professional and personal development.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my 6 years at Strathcom Media and look forward to seeing where Bill and the team will take the company in the years to come. I am extremely confident that under Bill’s leadership Strathcom will continue to be a market leader and dominant force in the industry.

I will be hanging around Strathcom for the remainder of August to assist Bill and the team to ensure a smooth transition, so if you have any questions I am here to help! Please feel free to contact me directly at 780-903-3520, or if you prefer, contact Bill at 780-908-1570.


All the best!

Duncan Cochrane

Former President of Strathcom Media

Are You CASL Compliant?

Important Update:

The Government has decided to suspend the implementation of the provision known as Private Right To Action.  This is the provision that would allow lawsuits to be filed against individuals and businesses for alleged violations.

Check out this government page for more information:

The government will be reviewing this, but the rest of CASL is still moving forward July 1.

Continue reading “Are You CASL Compliant?”

Strathcom Media has been Chosen for the Kia Dealer Website Certification Program!

Kia Optima

All of us at Strathcom Media are extremely excited to be named a Preferred Website Vendor for the Kia Dealer Website Certification Program! Kia had great success in 2015/16 with the program and wants to work with only the best moving into 2016/17 to take the program to the next level.

How can a preferred partner help you with the Kia DWCP?

  • Preferred pricing on website products. Who doesn’t love a deal?  With three different website service levels you can select the product that meets your dealership’s needs.
  • We know what Kia is looking for and will ensure you get and maintain a high certification score.
  • Best in class insights and performance.

More specifically, how can Strathcom Media help you?

  • 19 years of experience and the Canadian automotive industry is all we do. We speak at every major automotive event, we train manufacturers, and we work with some of the largest automotive groups in the country. We have the expertise to help you succeed.
  • We are a Google Premier Partner and a Facebook Preferred Partner. This means we can provide you with a best-in-class online advertising solution.
  • World class website platform. Does your website have technology like Personalization, Geo-Fencing, Notepad, Silent Salesman, Inventory Management, Data Syndication and Dynamic Incentive tools? Ours do.

If you are looking for different results moving into 2017 give us a shout and let us show you what we can do differently.

Facebook Automotive Partners Summit

We were one of only a few Canadian agencies invited to attend the 2nd Facebook Automotive Partners Summit in Menlo Park, California on Tuesday.  It’s always great to be recognized by a world class company like Facebook (it’s also very nice to leave the snow behind in Edmonton and hang out in Silicon Valley) but the greatest value comes from the industry-specific training and advanced learning that Facebook provides us.  So, here is the highlight reel of what we learned.

Facebook office in California

It was a jam packed day with over a dozen speakers covering over a dozen topics, as well as a tour and happy hour (more on that later).

First off, the technology that Facebook is working on and putting out is pretty slick, check this video out: This isn’t going to revolutionize the auto industry, but it gives you an idea of what they are capable of and that Facebook truly can reach everybody. Just wait until Oculus is full swing!

I’ve said this before and I am going to continue to say it again: Facebook is not about likes and shares. It is about highly targeted advertising, to relevant people, with a variety of ad formats.  We know that consumers go on a journey when they buy a vehicle.  Facebook enables you, as a dealer, to provide impactful advertising from consideration to ownership. So, what does this look like in terms of format or targeting?

  • Local awareness ads and videos with broad targeting focused on reach
  • Carousel ads to showcase inventory or features of vehicles with in- market auto data or website retargeting and look-a-like audiences
  • Lead ads for test drives and website clicks to VDPs with MAX in-market auto data and/or website retargeting
  • It doesn’t end with sales though, there are huge applications for fixed ops
  • Messenger is going to be big, not sure how big, but it is going to be big and it is going to have an impact in the auto industry
  • The other takeaway that I found very interesting were the abilities Facebook offers you to market to a multi-cultural nation.  Obviously this is very applicable in Canada, take advantage.

Facebook office in CaliforniaBeyond the great information and data presented, it would be a shame if we didn’t talk about the campus. Security is tight so don’t show up just expecting to have lunch with Zuck’.  Once you are in, it is like digital Disneyland; in fact, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg sits on the board of Disney and had them come out to help create the community.  It is truly amazing, and the California weather doesn’t hurt either. They have everything that you would expect your typical Silicon Valley company to have: cafeterias and food, a bike shop, a spa, a bank (of course), an ice cream parlour, a BBQ smokehouse, a woodworking shop, and a pop up shop that local businesses from Palo Alto can occupy so that Facebook can support the local economy.  Watching people work on their laptops while eating ice cream truly makes one envious.  One of the most interesting and important parts of Facebook HQ, in my opinion, is that it is located in the old Sun Microsystems campus and left they some of the logos around to remind everyone how quickly everything can change.  It is a good message for all: keep pushing forward.

Google Think Auto 2016: Full Review

For those of you who need more than a brief summary of think auto here is the big one, enjoy.

Google Think Auto 2016

This year, Think Auto was held in the historic Massey Hall. While the venue was definitely cool, the seats left something to be desired. The event featured a lineup of well known Googlers that took turns presenting different topics. Think Auto followed a similar path to previous years and updated a lot of the data points. There was a strong message presented again this year that OEMs and dealers are not living up to what the customer wants. One dealer group executive who attended the event told me he wasn’t quite sure he liked Google presenting itself as “the supreme overlord telling us how shitty we are at our jobs. We sold more cars than last year didn’t we?” Anyway, his words, not mine.

Sam Sebastian, the managing director of Google Canada, opened the event with a discussion about change which really set the tone for the whole day. Due to the fact that there are a lot of stats at Think Auto, I am going to use a lot of bullet points, this will make it easier for you if you are only looking for the numbers. Continue reading “Google Think Auto 2016: Full Review”

Highlights of DealerTalk 2016

This year’s edition of Kijiji’s DealerTalk went down at the Allstream Centre on Tuesday, September 20.  One of the changes for this year was having two streams that attendees could attend; one for sales and marketing, and the other for the executive level.  I personally thought this was a great way to provide attendees with the flexibility to attend what mattered to them most.

Jon Montgomery speaking at DealerTalk TorontoThe day opened with an inspiring keynote from Georgian College Alum, Olympic Gold Medalist and TV personality Jon Montgomery.  Jon is definitely a charismatic and fearless guy. Who else flies head first down a sheet of ice at 140km/hour? Or just hands his golf medal into a crowd and says: “I’ll get it later”?

After Jon Montgomery, dealers were invited to head to their first break out session.  Due to the fact that I can only be in one place at a time, I cannot give you a break down of all the sessions, but if you are looking for a bigger breakdown check out the site:

I checked out Alan Dickie’s presentation on how he uses video and Facebook for his business and how car dealers can do the same.  Alan is definitely an energetic presenter.  He opened with asking everyone in the room to go to Facebook and put in their status “if I can guarantee you $3,000 over what your vehicle is worth would you trade it in?”.  Towards the end of the session he asked the brave souls who did it what happened.  It definitely generated some buzz.

After Alan I checked out Susan Seto’s data driven presentation on what motivates Canadians to buy a car.  This was a jam packed session with a lot of charts.  Having just attended Google’s Think Auto event, I was interested in seeing what Susan had to say.  It’s important to note that Think Auto samples 5,000 individuals while, to my understanding, this data was based on 1,800 individuals.  Biggest difference in my mind was in the data on most important sources used when buying a car.  There was a little bit of overlap, but while Google says Search, OEM Sites, Dealer Sites and Reviews are where customers are looking, Kijiji – surprisingly – placed classified sites on the list and did not have a single mention of dealer websites.  Seems a little convenient, but then again, I sell dealer websites and Kijiji sells classified listings.  You’ll have to decide for yourself or trust Google!

After lunch I checked out Kyle Costa’s presentation which focused on some fundamentals that you need to get right and then some next level initiatives you can work on when you have the foundation laid.  I agree with Kyle’s mentality that other industries are being disrupted and our industry is ripe for the picking.  Companies like Carvana and Beepi are making an attempt to change the game and if you don’t step up, they will succeed.  Kyle provided real examples straight from the trenches that are working for him, not just ideas a consultant dreamed up and has never tried.

DealerTalk TorontoKevin Graff closed the day with an afternoon keynote which was very impressive considering he had only 30 minutes. Kevin had everyone agreeing that we can all sell more and provided us with five foundations to do this:

  1. Focus on Goals – if I called anyone in your store would they know their target?
  2. Share Results Constantly
  3. Accountability for Success – people play the game different when they know it matters
  4. Ongoing Training and Coaching – do you train every week?
  5. Make it Worthwhile

Overall, I thought that the day was well put on and well received by the attendees.  I also really appreciate the sweet K-Way jacket from Kijiji!

Google Think Auto 2016

Google Think Auto 2016
Massey Hall, Toronto, September 8, 2016

Another edition of Google Think Auto is in the books and, as always, it was an insightful afternoon from the online powerhouse.  The theme of the event was change, but this always seems to be the case with technology.  Technology drives change and creates the expectation of change.  We have all been talking about Uber, Air BnB and Netflix for awhile now, but it still remains relevant to be cautiously paranoid about someone coming to our industry and turning it upside down.  We need to continue to push forward and effect change.

Speaking of change, this year Google made some changes to their Think Auto study. They expanded their study from 3,000 car shoppers to 5,000 car shoppers which means that they have deeper data than they have had in previous years. This was also the first year that Google included a dealer-specific segment.

Here are some highlights from this year’s study:

  • Online video is continuing to become more important for consumers but is still not being fully utilized by the auto industry in Canada. Since OEMs are not producing the content, it is up to individual dealerships to start creating the content that customers are looking for.
  • The average car buyer is making 3 dealership visits, but:
    • 40% visit one dealer only
    • 23% visit multiple dealers of the same brand
    • 37% visit multiple dealers and brands
  • Prices and Payments and Booking a Test Drive are pain points for customers
  • 65% of shoppers have emailed a dealer
    • About half of customers are not happy with the timeliness or the quality of responses
  • Google is going to have a Dealer Digital Excellent Award this coming year

We will have a more complete summary to follow with more detailed info and stats, stay tuned!

What’s New With YouTube?

Ashley Hahn, Brand Strategy Lead from Google, gave us a great update and presentation on what’s going on with Canada’s second favorite search engine, YouTube. Couple fun facts about YouTube:

  • 400 minutes of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, that’s more content creation than the big three networks have put together in the past 5 years combined.
  • Canada loves YouTube, 26.6 million monthly users, reaches 84% of the online population in Canada

In my opinion YouTube is still greatly underutilized by Canadian auto dealers.  Although there are a variety of reasons, video production and quality have always been at the top of the list of why dealers aren’t on YouTube.  Well, you’re in luck!  YouTube has just released a new app call YouTube Director.  This is a slick new app designed to help the average dealer or SMB get on YouTube.  

Okay, so maybe you have filmed a video or two, what else?  YouTube is a great medium to help generate awareness, but the power of YouTube’s platform is the targeting.  Ashley provided an example of how we can target the ‘true self’, not just the demographic self of an individual that might be valuable to your business.   

  YouTube - Demographic Self vs True SelfYouTube - Demographic Self vs True SelfYouTube - Demographic Self vs True Self

We know that lots of Canadians go to YouTube and they go to YouTube by choice.  The days of watching what’s on just because it’s on are long gone.  YouTube can help you reach the undecided, not the uninterested, consumer that matters to your business.

How about some good examples from outside the auto vertical!

  • Warby Parker Help – an online eye wear company that answers questions and demo’s products using YouTube.  Video quality is good but not Hollywood good. This has direct application to our industry.
  • Geico Unskippable ad – Ad Age campaign of the year and super funny.  It’s all about context! We all hate when we don’t see that Skip Ad button, so have some fun with it like Geico.
  • Dollar shave club  We have all seen this video, it’s been watched over 23 million times.  The success of this video helped Dollar Shave Club recently get sold to Unilever for $1B.  Not bad
  • First YouTube video uploaded 18 seconds of non-sense, you know, in case you were curious.

Our habits with YouTube and online video in general have changed.  We used to watch it at home, alone, in isolation.  Now we watch videos in public with our friends.  I am watching these YouTube clips on a flight with a colleague.  The times have changed!  YouTube was driven to prominence by millennials, but it is certainly not just for millennials anymore.  Not to mention those same millennials now have cash and purchasing power – probably individuals worth targeting.

It is only going to get worse (or more important depending on how you look at it).  Variety did a survey of American teens that revealed YouTube stars are far more popular than traditional celebrities. That’s right, PewDiePie is cooler than Katy Perry.

 In summary, YouTube: underutilized by Canadian auto dealers + hugely popular with Canadians + great targeting abilities = one massive opportunity for you.

What’s New in Waterloo? Google!

Google WaterlooWe were honored to be one of only 16 Google Partners invited to come and spend the day at Google’s latest and greatest office in Canada’s tech hub – Waterloo, Ontario.  This is one of the many perks that we get as a Premier Google Partner in Canada.  The day was packed with insightful speakers, great content, exclusive training, lots of food, and a tour.

If you were not aware, we are giving away 6 trips in September to this very same office where you will be treated to a similar experience – click here for details and to enter.  You will not be disappointed if you win!  

So what did we learn? A lot!  We are going to break this down into three additional posts.  One on Google’s brand new Expanded Text Ads, another on every business’s favorite source of frustration: Google My Business, and finally, one on What’s New with YouTube.  

A little about the newest Google office first.  It is in an incredible building that was built in 1918 and was actually a former rubber plant.  It houses approximately 500 Googlers with the capacity for about 500 more.  These engineers don’t work on Canadian specific projects either; they work on big ticket items like Gmail, Chrome and the Ads Infrastructure.  Like all Google offices that I have had the pleasure of visiting, it has wicked food at the main cafeteria, mini cafe’s on all floors, a cyborg moose (what’s more Canadian tech?) a gym with a climbing wall, nap pods and a whole lot more.

Google Waterloo - CafeteriaGoogle Waterloo - Cafeteria                    Google Waterloo - Cafeteria

What did we learn? For this post I am going to focus on two speakers, the individual posts will take care of the rest.  First up was Ben Wood, Director of Channel Sales Americas.  Ben spoke about how Google focuses on the ‘whole problem’ and works from that perspective.  If someone using Google can’t spell, it’s a Google problem.  If the internet is not fast enough, it’s Google’s problem.  This type of thinking has lead to great developments like Google Suggest (you know when Google suggests searches before you are done typing) and Google Chrome, a way faster and way better internet browser than what was available.  Further to looking at the whole problem, he spoke about 10X and moon shots – essentially the big, big wins that will transform your business, maybe even your industry.  Google considers these types or products over small iteration.  This is how we get self-driving cars, contact lenses to measure insulin levels for diabetics, and project Loon (balloon powered internet for the remote parts of the world).

Google WaterlooAfter Ben we heard from Sam Sebastian, Managing Director of Google Canada, or the big boss.  Sam provided us with an unbiased look at what Google is trying to accomplish in Canada – mainly diversify away from search advertising.  He spoke candidly about ad blocking and that one solution will be for Google and Premier Partners like us to build better ads.  One comment that he made was that in 10-15 years every business will be a software business.  He provided examples from big banks and agencies and how software is starting to be at the core of all we do.  Whether he is right or wrong, I am going to learn how to code.  The last concept he shared that really resonated with me was about Yahoo’s sale to Verizon for ~$4.8B.  Yahoo was valued at more than $100B at its peak in 2000.  What happened to the other $95B?  No one knows exactly, but it is this type of event that constantly reminds him (and perhaps it should all of us) that we need to be a little bit paranoid about the next start up.  It is this paranoia that needs to drive us to hit our 10X goals that Ben outlined, to stay in business and not lose 95% of our value.

Overall it was a great day and it is always an honor to be invited to such an exclusive event.  For more information on the day and all the training we received, check out our three other blogs on the event:   Expanded Text Ads, Google My Business, and  What’s New with YouTube.


Duncan Cochrane

Why Conquesting Should be a Fundamental Part of your Dealership Strategy!

brand loyalty strathcom media canadian car dealer website advertising

Every year, Google shares some valuable insights with their automotive partners in the form of their Think Auto study. Sifting through this goldmine of data, it made me realize that not enough dealers focus on conquesting and as a result they are missing out.  To set the stage, here are a few points from Google’s research I found particularly valuable:

  • 75% of the automotive research process is done online
  • The average consumer only visits 1.5 dealerships in person compared to 5 back in 2005
  • 87% of people consider multiple brands during the research and shopping process
  • 71% of people switched brands with a new purchase (was driving a Ford and bought a Chev)
  • 81% of people are using search engines during the shopping process and search leads to brand discovery
  • People are open to influence from the start
    • 63% start with a competitive brand in mind and buy something else
    • 14% start with a brand in mind and buy it
    • 23% have no brand in mind

Okay, so we can all agree that a bunch of stats can be boring, so what does this actually mean?

We know that the research and shopping process is predominantly done online, no surprise.  However, what most dealers and manufacturers don’t want to admit is that brand loyalty is low, VERY low.  Only about 12% of shoppers are brand loyal and about 14% of shoppers buy the brand that they first have in mind.

This is why you need to focus on conquesting!

So how can we do this?

Here are three steps to start a good conquesting strategy:

  1. Brand and model comparison pages on your website. Few dealers actually do this.  You might have heard about this strategy in the past but did you actually go and write why the 2016 Ford F-150 is better than every other truck in the market?
  2.  Incorporate a conquest strategy into your paid search campaigns. People use search engines in the research process and then discover new brands as a result.  If you’re a Chevy dealer trying to compete with the new Tacoma maybe you want to come up in this search:
  3. conquest searchDon’t forget about the 2nd most popular search engine in Canada, YouTube. Leverage the popularity of YouTube and film some comparison videos.  Walk around your Dodge Ram 1500 explaining why it is superior to the Silverado and Sierra.  With some simple editing software you can even loop in some stock footage of competing models.

The reality is people are not brand loyal, they are open to influence and you can take advantage of this.  Why focus on first time buyers when they only make up 17% of the market, focus on the 71% of people who are open to switching.

Get Conquesting, Get More Leads.