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Countdown to GA4: Less than 30 days!

Embrace Change: Google Universal Analytics Sunsets in July 2023, Shifting Focus to Google Analytics 4 for Car Dealerships




As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, businesses must adapt and stay ahead of the game. One such change that is on the horizon is the discontinuation of Google Universal Analytics. Google has announced that as of July 2023, Universal Analytics will no longer be supported, leaving businesses, including car dealerships, with the need to migrate to the newer and more advanced platform—Google Analytics 4 (GA4). In this blog post, we will explore why this shift is crucial for car dealerships and delve into the significance of the Automotive Standards Council in the automotive industry.


The Transition from Universal Analytics to GA4


Google Universal Analytics has served as a reliable tool for businesses to track and analyze website traffic, user behavior, and conversions. However, with the rapid advancement of technology and the increasing complexity of user interactions, Universal Analytics has reached its limitations. Google Analytics 4 was introduced as a more advanced and intelligent analytics platform to address these challenges and provide enhanced insights into user behavior across various devices and touchpoints.

For car dealerships, the transition from Universal Analytics to GA4 is vital to maintain a competitive edge and gain a deeper understanding of customers. The automotive industry is highly competitive, and car dealerships rely on accurate data to make informed decisions and optimize their marketing efforts.


Why GA4 is Essential for Car Dealerships


Cross-Device Tracking: In today’s multi-device world, consumers often interact with car dealerships through various touchpoints, including mobile devices, desktops, and tablets. GA4 excels in cross-device tracking, allowing car dealerships to gain a comprehensive view of customer journeys and better understand how different devices influence their decision-making process.

Enhanced User Insights: GA4 provides a more detailed and granular understanding of user behavior, empowering car dealerships to uncover valuable insights. Features like enhanced measurement, predictive analytics, and machine learning capabilities enable businesses to identify patterns, predict customer behavior, and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly.

Event-Driven Data Collection: GA4 emphasizes event-driven data collection, which shifts the focus from tracking page views to capturing user interactions and specific events on websites or mobile apps. This approach provides a more comprehensive understanding of how customers engage with a car dealership’s online presence, enabling businesses to optimize user experiences and drive conversions.


The Significance of the Automotive Standards Council


In the automotive industry, standardization plays a crucial role in ensuring interoperability and compatibility across different systems and platforms. The Automotive Standards Council (ASC) is an organization dedicated to defining and implementing automotive standards, promoting data integration, and enhancing collaboration within the industry.

With the transition to GA4, the involvement of the Automotive Standards Council becomes even more relevant. The ASC can provide guidance and establish industry-wide best practices for car dealerships and other stakeholders to ensure a seamless migration process. Their expertise can help dealerships leverage GA4 effectively and optimize their data analysis capabilities to meet industry-specific needs.




As we bid farewell to Google Universal Analytics, the introduction of Google Analytics 4 brings new opportunities for car dealerships to gain deeper insights into customer behavior and optimize their marketing strategies. By embracing the change and migrating to GA4, car dealerships can unlock the potential of advanced analytics and stay competitive in the dynamic automotive industry.

Furthermore, the Automotive Standards Council serves as a vital resource to guide car dealerships through this transition. Their industry expertise and commitment to standardization can help ensure a smooth and successful adoption of GA4, enabling car dealerships to harness the full power of data analytics and make data-driven decisions.

In this age of rapid technological advancements, adaptation is key. Car dealerships that embrace the shift to GA4 and leverage the support of organizations like the Automotive Standards Council will be better equipped to thrive and excel in the ever-evolving automotive landscape.


It is one of the biggest conflicts of interest we see in the car business today – vendor self reporting.

You’ll sign up with a vendor to advertise your inventory online to boost sales, and then rely on their reporting to tell you what a great job their company is doing for you.

“In fact Mr Dealer, the only way you could do better would be to upgrade your package for another $1,000 per month….”

We’ve all heard it, and they have every reason to say it. Dealers hand vendors a check every month and a vendor will pat dealers on the back and tell them, “You’re doing great, keep it up.”

There are so many ways to spin the data that finding the “truth” in your data can be challenging for a dealer. At the end of the day, dealers need to know what’s driving quality leads, traffic, sales, and profit.

  • A dealer SHOULDN’T have to spend all day looking at 15 different reports from different vendors to try to figure out ROI.
  • A dealer SHOULDN’T have to try to rely on their CRM which is based on user entered data that may have errors or manipulated for the gain on someone who’s pay-plan depends on it.
  • A dealer SHOULD be able to look at a single unbiased report with all of their digital advertisers and see ROI for each of them in an easy to understand format that provides actionable data. Put your marketing spend where it’s most effective, and hold your digital advertising vendors accountable.

Putting a face with the name – Dealership Staff Photos

I’m shocked at the amount of dealership websites I visit and see such a large percentage of dealers either don’t have staff pages with photos, or even worse they have the “ghost” outline photos.


Who made that decision? In 2019 we put a lot of effort into humanizing our dealerships. We focus time on internal processes for how customers are greeted, we spend advertising dollars discussing how our dealerships are easy to do business with – that our process is painless, have you in and out in your new vehicle in “x” amount of time, etc. We strive to put a personal touch on our customer experience and yet don’t express that personal touch digitally.


It leads be to believe one of two things:

1) Your turnover is so high that a store is embarrassed. We realize people and opportunities change in a store and staff does as well. If that’s the case, keep it updated!

2) I hear the argument that you’re afraid other dealers will steal your employees – that’s a virtually non-existent problem at a good store where your people are treated well. The few that are willing to jump ship so easily lack loyalty, you don’t need that kind of person representing your store anyway.


Take staff photos, write short bios, include relevant info that makes them an asset to your store and customers browsing your site – an example would be if they speak fluent Spanish or another language. Personalize and humanize your websites – your website is your digital showroom and your staff are your biggest assets. Look at the photo below – which best represents your dealership to your customers?

Moneyball, Digital Vendors and You

You know the routine : A vendor hawking their digital wares promises you more leads, more conversions and ultimately more sales if you’ll simply buy their product. And what a product it is! It’s either “revolutionary”, “ground-breaking” or patent-pending. Or maybe all three. But it’s going to generate more sales, right? Right?

Trying different approaches and taking risks is the hallmark of a successful business. However, trying new things without having a plan in place to measure the results is litt


le more than hoping. And hope isn’t a viable business strategy.

So how do you


measure the effectiveness of a digital vendor? It’s easy to say “It’s working if I’m selling more cars!” but that’s overly simplistic. Your sales, or lack thereof, could be attributed to a number of things; things that a vendor can’t take the credit or the blame for. We have a saying in data science : “Correlation is not causation”, which is really just a fancy way of saying that two things might seem related, but that doesn’t mean that they are.

To create a plan for gauging a digital vendor’s effectiveness against other digital vendors, you need to identify things that can be measured and that can be attributed to a specific vendor. By measuring specific things (Let’s call them “metrics”) and assigning point values to each metric, you have a simple way of measuring and comparing a vendor’s effectiveness.

Let’s take a look at measuring and scoring four metrics: Inbound leads, phone calls, macro and micro conversions on your website and attributable sales.

Inbound Leads
This one is pretty simple; If the vendor is going to drive leads then they should be driving leads using the ADF standard so it’s easy for a CRM and other tools to track how many leads they generated. Don’t rely on the vendor to provide this information via that nice, snazzy looking report that they send you every month. Rely on your CRM or other tool, such as Dealer Insights, that is receiving copies of their ADF leads. Trust. But verify.

Phone Calls
It’s becoming quite common nowadays to track a vendor by assigning them a call tracking number, but I’m still surprised at the number of times that I see dealers spending thousands per month with no independent, quantifiable way to measure phone traffic. Once again, do not rely on the vendor to provide this information. If your CRM doesn’t provide a way to generate a call tracking number then use a platform such as Dealer Insights that integrates with all major call tracking platforms as well as let’s you generate your own call tracking numbers.

Website Conversions – Macro and Micro
Your website should be your primary digital presence. Do not relegate that out to 3’rd party classified sites. While they certainly have their place, the goal should be to drive as much traffic to your website as possible.

Once that traffic comes to your website, it’s important to measure it. But how? Just measuring the number of visitors a vendor sent to your website tells you nothing. How do you know that they didn’t click away immediately? Measuring form submissions is great, but just because a visitor didn’t fill out a lead form doesn’t mean that the traffic was worthless.

You want to measure what I refer to as macro-conversions and micro-conversions. A macro-conversion would be things like filling out a lead form or initiating an online chat. These are outward signs of engagement; they are asking you to talk to them.

But there are also micro-conversions. These are the small events that are still demonstrating engagement and can ultimately lead to a sale. Things such as viewing the testimonials page, or viewing the Maps / Directions page.

VDP views are another example of a micro-conversion. But not all VDP views are created equal. A visitor that clicks through a dozen VDPs and only stays on each page 1-2 seconds isn’t as valuable as a visitor that views 2-3 VDPs and spends a few minutes on each one.

Google Analytics makes all of this information available. For the uninitiated, pulling form conversions, VDP views, time on VDP, etc for each of your digital vendors can be a bit daunting and time consuming, so I’d recommend looking at platforms such as Dealer Insights that can do all of this for you automatically.

Attributable Sales
Lastly, you should run a DMS matchback report so that you can attribute sales to your digital vendors. Now, you might have heard of the term “multi-channel attribution”. We know that most car shoppers are influenced by multiple advertising channels and it’s not usually accurate to give 100% of the credit for a sale to a single vendor. Multi-channel attribution is a topic that I’ll cover in greater depth in my next post, but for now you should be aware that there is usually a mix of vendors that participated in getting the customer into your dealership and it’s important you are looking at this interplay between them.

Most CRM tools can provide some types of DMS matchbacks reports, but they often lack the ability to look at multi-channel attribution. Consider leveraging a platform such as Dealer Insights that can not only perform DMS matchbacks, it can also examine the interplay between your digital vendors to assign proper attribution.

Putting It All Together – Scoring A Digital Vendor
Once you’ve gathered this information about, it’s time to play moneyball. For each of these metrics; inbound leads, phone calls, VDP views, average time on VDPs, number of views to the contact us page, number of sales, etc, you want to assign a score

With this information, you can make informed decisions about your digital marketing spend by ranking vendors according to your scoring method.