The next marketing challenge: Targeting

NEW YORK — New technology means that media planning — targeting which consumers to pitch, via which media, with which message — is The Next Big Thing in marketing, speakers at the Automotive News Marketing 360 conference here said.

“The game changer is increasingly going to be the in-car technology that affords us the opportunity. We will know more about drivers’ behaviors, patterns,” said Drew Slaven, chief marketing officer for Mercedes-Benz USA.

Christian Meunier, Nissan North America Inc. senior vice president of Nissan sales & marketing and operations, agreed. As a result, he said, “I think the media strategy is going to take over.” His comments came during a panel discussion moderated by Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein.

Media is changing “at lighting speed,” Meunier said. “We have a lot of new technologies, a lot of data analytics available to us. We have to make sure we serve the right people the right ad, the right creative.”

Panelists differed over what new technology and the vast new volume of consumer data mean for ad formats. Meunier said he thinks the future points to extremely short bursts of interactive messages and images, online and in social media.

“The 30-second, the 60-second, wonderful TV spot that the entire agency works on for months, for putting on the Super Bowl — I don’t think that’s the future,” he said. Rather, he said, messages as short as two to five seconds are the future.

Melody Lee, brand marketing director for Cadillac, disagreed, saying longer-format ads and more traditional media still have an important role to play in the right circumstances.

“I absolutely still believe in the 30-second TV commercial. There are very few more effective ways to communicate emotion than TV,” she said.

“Even the 60 seconds,” she added. “It’s just got to be appropriate.” For example, Lee cited TV commercials Cadillac ran during the Academy Awards this year.

Cadillac is pursuing nontraditional marketing, too.

Lee said the pilot Book by Cadillac vehicle subscription service has enjoyed about a 90 percent month-over-month retention rate since it was launched in February. For $1500 monthly, with no long-term contract, the program offers clients in the New York metropolitan area access to select Cadillac models.

Nissan, Mercedes and Cadillac have relocated over the past 11 years or so. Nissan moved first, going from Los Angeles to Nashville in 2006. Mercedes moved some personnel to temporary offices in Atlanta from suburban New Jersey in 2015 and expects to move into a new headquarters in 2018. Cadillac moved its headquarters to New York from Detroit in 2015.

Lee said Book by Cadillac is an example of something the brand has done that wouldn’t have happened without the move. She said the program shows how much new clout the New York-based marketing team has. She said, “This was done out of marketing.”