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Should Your Dealership Advertise on the Weather Channel?


Car dealership are under constant attack. Between third-party lead providers, local media and new tech companies, there are always new ways to spend money.

A hot pitch we have noticed recently is the Weather Channel. Yep, now your data from searching to see when it will rain is being turned into advertising dollars.

The sales pitch goes something like this: When users type in their zip code to check the weather, 90% of the time it is for the city they are living in. Since the Weather Channel knows (90% of the time) where a person lives, it can show an ad for a car dealer in that market.

The cost? $10-14 per thousand impressions (CPM). I highlight impressions because unlike Facebook ads or Google ads, Weather Channel ads charge you whether or not someone clicks on your ad.

The average results? On the Web, it’s a 0.1% click-through rate (CTR); on mobile, it’s up to 0.47% CTR; and on a tablet, 0.3% CTR.

Should your dealership use the Weather Channel ad service? Let’s take a look at the data.

Follow My Math

If $1,000 bucks gets you 100,000 impressions (on the cheap end), a 0.47% CTR (the highest average CTR) would give you 470 visitors. That means you’d spend $2.13 per visitor if you have the average CTR.

Let’s compare that to other online advertising services.

Facebook v. AdWords v. Weather Channel

We have seen Facebook ads as an economical and effective advertising channel. The price we have seen for clients hovers between $1-2. On Google AdWords, the price varies greatly by keyword and market. We aim for $3-4 per click for our clients’ most important words.

The big difference between these and the Weather Channel is that Facebook and AdWords only charge when people click. This is called pay-per-click (PPC). With the Weather Channel, you’ll be charged for your ad loading, even if the user doesn’t actually see it.

The other thing to consider, especially with mobile, is accidental clicks. On many mobile apps, we see high CTRs–but also very high bounce rates for that traffic.

A bounce is when someone visits a site and immediately leaves without clicking anything on the page. High bounces mean people clicked on a site they didn’t want to be on. In other words, an accidental or mistaken click is very likely.

Weather Channel Is Great for Slightly Overpriced Traffic

So should your dealership use the Weather Channel?

The answer depends on the problem you’re facing. If traffic is the problem–meaning you feel you need more eyeballs–the Weather Channel will bring you more visitors for an average to slightly worse cost than other online ad services.

What’s more, the alternatives of Facebook and AdWords are better targeted. On Facebook, ads can be shown to people based not only on where they live, but also on what vehicles they drive, where they work and their economic levels. That’s much stronger than a zip code alone.

With Google AdWords, you can display your ads based on what someone is looking for. Someone searching Google for an F-150 is looking for a site with an F-150. Plus, Google only makes you pay when people click on your ad. That traffic will be a higher quality because they are looking for the very thing you sell.

With the Weather Channel, on the other hand, people simply want to know the weather. They might be distracted or even annoyed by your ad.

Weather Channel Conversion

Now, the big question: Does the Weather Channel convert?

If your dealership decides to market on the Weather Channel, track the traffic and see if it’s quality or not. The easiest way to do this is to create a goal on Google Analytics. Then, under Traffic Sources, you can find the Weather Channel traffic and see how many of those users hit the goal.

My guess is that you will see a lot of accidental thumb clicks–which helps your CTR but doesn’t lead to sales.

I could be wrong, but I would bet you’re better off spending your budget on Facebook, AdWords or creating content that is educational and helpful to your customers.

If you are looking to learn more about online advertising, Facebook might be an option to consider. Download our free eBook to learn how to best use Facebook ads for an auto dealer.


Photo: Angus