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iPad Creates Marketing Spam

Hold on to your marketing dollars dealers cause the next few months are going to be a bumpy ride! With Apple’s release of the iPad a week ago, we are already seeing a number of early adopters jump in to grab this device without really understanding its full purpose. (Note: I myself picked up an iPad on Friday, but I can’t say I love it for anything in particular just yet.)

It should come as no surprise that marketers will now try and incorporate the word “iPad” into their vocabulary of marketing buzz words now that the device is officially out. Like all new shiny objects that has built up demand and hype, businesses are running all sorts of promotions, special offers and scams centering around the new object so they can get their own brand thrown into the hype machine. But before you throw your money into whatever new packages that are being offered by your vendors, make sure you do your homework and do some fact checking first. 5 minutes of your time could save thousands in your wallet!

Note: The following is just an observation I’ve made while casually strolling through my Twitter feed on a Sunday afternoon. While I’m sure @automotiveseo is a great person and I have no personal experience with their services, this particular action seemed like it warranted being called out. If you are reading this, you are more than welcome to leave a comment below but I honestly hope the following doesn’t become a trend.

Brian Pasch announced Saturday at 1am that their classifieds website CarDealerSale.com is now officially optimize for the iPad. Now, the internet user in me knows that the iPad is really just a standard sized screen that also happens to be a touchscreen so why this news is worthy of a press release is beyond me. It’s also funny cause as far as I know there are only two ways you can optimize a website for the iPad.

  1. Change Adobe Flash to HTML5 video if your website uses it.
  2. Remove onMouseOver cause mouse hovers do not exist on the iPad.

But I was curious so I read more…

The Automotive Advertising Network’s national car sales portal is located at www.cardealersale.com and lists all cars that are available for sale from member dealers. The website is designed for the optimal consumer experience for Internet shoppers. The site has also been optimized for the new Apple iPad.

When the CarDealerSale.com website is accessed by iPad users, the car detail pages utilize the full screen capabilities of the iPad. The AAN is the first optimized website for car dealer inventory advertising by eliminating distracting advertising banners on car detail pages and utilizing the iPad’s full screen capabilities. Since car listing pages are free from ads, the details fit perfectly on the iPad’s attractive display.

So apparently according to their hype machine, no ads = iPad optimized.

But a quick check on my iPad revealed the same, normal website with ads. WTH?!

Okay, so maybe their techs failed to optimize the site before the press release went out at Saturday/Sunday. But honestly, the oddest thing about this is the timing of the press release, not the sleeping techs. Who reads press releases on a Saturday night? Well, maybe Twitter – the amazing micro-blogging platform can help solve this problem.

Yep. It seems like Twitter was used successfully to spam this announcement throughout the night. Digg too! Social media FTW! (For those of you not in the social media circle, FTW = for the win!)

But let’s go back to the website… did you notice that on the upper right hand corner of iPad enhanced site there’s a HUGE TWITTER button that demanded you to follow their Twitter account? When you take up 1/10th of the screen and place the button above the ad and above the fold, Twitter must be an important and integral marketing strategy for this particular service, right?

Uh… nope! It appears this account is another example of a barely used, non-engaging Twitter account that only has 36 followers (possibly bots) and 23 link-tastic tweets. In social media, we call this EPIC FAIL!

In all seriousness, the iPad is really REALLY new and it’s probably too early for dealers to take fully advantage of this new platform. If anyone that tells you otherwise they are selling you snake oil. The fact is, while the blogosphere is going gaga over the iPad, there are less than half a million units floating out there in the wild and I would venture most of the people who are using it are still just playing with it.

Your best bet would be to continue spending marketing dollars in other channels and wait and see what develops from the iPad platform. The iPad is only 8 days old and it’s still a baby. The iPhone OS 4 that was just announced last Thursday with multitasking and geo-location is certainly not yet mature. For now, the iPad is a blank canvas and until the developers create more services/tools that can actually present an engaging and enhanced experience on the go – it probably is not worth your time to dig into it. Spend your time on Twitter or Facebook if you haven’t fully utilized it yet. There are reasons why many brands drive you to their Facebook page on TV commercials instead of their traditional website.

Will the iPad be a hit for dealers? I guess time will tell… but if you have thoughts on this now, please feel free to leave a comment below.