Constellation Agency Helps Drive the Auto Industry into a New Era

The auto industry needs a tune-up. Customer service is getting faster across verticals amid the Covid-19 e-commerce boom. But all auto customers know that the sales experience in the industry has hardly changed — and it’s a hassle. Show up to the local dealership, find out if the car you want is even there, and of course, haggle with the dealer.

Diana Lee, CEO and co-founder of the digital marketing agency Constellation Agency, is offering a solution. Lee boasts 34 years of experience in auto, having worked client side for behemoths such as Ford. She says her company’s digital creative optimization software, Alexia, is well positioned to help the industry conquer 21st-century commerce.

Alexia automates ad creative

Alexia was born from a problem. Constellation’s earliest employees complained to Lee that all their jobs were “boring.” “All I’m doing is making ads on social platforms all day,” Lee said an employee had told her. When Lee enlisted her high-school-age son and his peers to help out, they said the same.

Enter Alexia. The SaaS technology allows Constellation’s now 950+ clients, including nine original equipment manufacturers, to create thousands of ads through automation.

What’s more, those ads are hyper-localized, adjusting to some extent for local areas’ customs and languages. Lee said this is especially important to her, a daughter of immigrants. Her mother would benefit from getting an Alexia-powered ad in Korean.

Optimizing auto sales

“Nobody likes buying a car,” Lee said. But while long-standing laws prevent traditional automakers from selling directly to consumers, insurgents such as Tesla are setting new standards for the automotive customer experience.

What’s great about the D2C Tesla model, Lee said, is that it answers the three questions customers have about cars and many other goods: “How much is it, where can I buy it, and do you have it?” With D2C car sales, there’s no haggling, no exploring dealerships to see where the car is, no need, even, to travel to a store. 

These three questions also drive the creative optimization that Alexia powers. The software retargets the car curious with precisely this information, allowing automaker incumbents to offer a level of personalization and efficiency closer to that of the digital-native newcomers.

“If I’m looking for a car and I have a payment of $300/month, Alexia can reach that person,” Lee said.

Constellation skyrockets

Lee co-founded Constellation with Matt Woodruff, the company’s chief product officer, who is some two decades her junior — “not a likely pair.” But he knew social, and she knew what clients needed.

The company has had to move offices eight times in less than five years due to rapid growth. It’s now at about 100 employees and has California offices to complement its New York headquarters. Alexia creates 150,000 ads on a monthly basis.

The company is profitable and has “zero debt,” Lee said, having chosen not to take big-time investor funding.

“We believed we had a vision that was greater than what others wanted us to be,” Lee said. “We believe Alexia, our platform, is going to be more valuable than Constellation Agency.”

The company is also disrupting the billable-hours model typical of advertising agencies. Because Alexia is at the heart of Constellation Agency, making it a SaaS play, the company charges subscription fees, not in terms of hours needed to produce creative.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018 and compiled the daily newsletter since 2016. Joe is a journalist who has written widely about technology, business, and politics. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.