PureCars CEO Talks Power of Location Data—And How Some Brands Can Build Beyond It

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Online retail occupies a larger share of the market than ever before. Yet certain industries still require, by nature, local brick-and-mortar locations for customers to complete their purchases.

Case in point: the automotive industry. Cars are typically the second-biggest purchase consumers makes in their lifetimes (after homes). How are marketers taking advantage of digital tools to make sure consumers choose their brand among what is typically a glut of local options?

Street Fight talked with Sam Mylrea, CEO of PureCars, a marketing automation and business intelligence suite for auto dealers, to discuss how his company uses location data to help dealerships capture the attention of nearby customers.

How valuable is location data to your company?

For PureCars specifically it’s been incredibly valuable. We see that consumers spend an incredible amount of time browsing online. That said, purchasing the vehicle is still a very local activity. We’re advertising our customers’ inventory at a very local level.

Waze works really well for us on the pit stop side with vehicle parts services. Think of new tires, oil changes, engine checks. If it’s someone using Waze, typically it’s a need-it-now moment. You want to see who’s nearby. We’ll buy those top spots from a search standpoint so that our customers are showing up first. So it’s kind of a win-win for us: effectively spending our customers’ ad dollars to [attract] a consumer that’s in market looking for that particular service.

What types of industries do you see benefiting less from location-based data?

More and more consumers are shopping and buying online. Those retailers don’t just have to advertise in their backyard. If they find that they sell more in markets with a particular demographic set, you can do that across multiple locations. It’s more about whether you are targeting the right audience than the right location.

You’re seeing the barriers to entry to advertise in different markets totally open up now. Consumers are totally fine not touching and feeling the end e-commerce product. But in the automotive side, given that it’s the second largest purchase a consumer makes, consumers still like to kick the tires before buying the car.

What strategies have been useful to you beyond location-based data?

On top of location, we’re looking at audience data. We can infer that the consumer is in the market to buy a car, or currently in market to look for a service for their car. It’s all anonymized. Layered on that, we also use demographic data. If there’s a certain demographic with a higher probability of owning a truck or a minivan or a sports car, we’ll layer that on top of location-based data. We’ll layer that on top of brand loyalty data. We’ll also look at where the dealer has performed well in the past and use that to infer the best zip codes to target at the same time.

What tactics should marketers turn to rather than location-based advertising in order to broaden their reach? Are there any that they have lost sight of?

Sometimes there’s a new capability out there, and everyone runs to it. Given there’s a whole universe out there of different data points that you can use for a specific campaign, we really try to utilize machine learning so that we can constantly improve our models.

For us, the holy grail of attribution—from online behavior to an offline purchase—is something we’ve recently solved. We can connect the dots to see how we influence them multiple times around that path to purchase.

Kate Talerico is a staff writer at Street Fight.