Steve White offers some advice for those facing the dilemma of having to use "another damn dashboard" to access their marketing results

BY February 21

When talking to dealers about measuring marketing results from their various vendors, I often hear them bemoaning the fact that they have to log into multiple dashboards, I refer to this as “ADD.” Perhaps not the ADD you’re thinking of – here it stands for “Another Damn Dashboard!” What dealer isn’t fed up with too many dashboards making it impossible to focus on the data? Honestly, ADD has grown to epidemic levels in dealerships!

Think about the day in the life of the average dealer and just how many dashboards they are required to log into to see the results of all their marketing campaigns. Anyone would be confused by this lack of data unification. Also, stop and think for a minute about the self–serving nature of vendor dashboards, and why they were created in the first place – to make the vendor look good! The biggest offender being Google Analytics. Dealers are sure as heck not getting an accurate, 360 degree view of their data. These vendors should take a more attribution-friendly approach and make their data more accessible to companies that are trying to pull this data together to help dealers make sense of it all.

Let’s put it into perspective. Remember the days of the desk log? Every time a customer came in, the salesperson wrote down the customer’s name and recorded what the outcome of that visit was – was there a demo; a write-up; a sale? If a sales manager walked away and went to lunch, he could immediately come back and catch up with what was going on in the store. In addition, that desk log gave the manager actionable data that he could then use to identify and handle any problem areas.

Up until now, there hasn’t been a digital marketing “desk log” if you will. All dealers had were multiple vendor dashboards. In some cases they had to rely on e-mailed PDF reports, or wait for a vendor visit to learn if their investment was selling cars. This is a key reason why last-click attribution was adopted by dealers – it was easy to understand and connect dots. The problem is that it does not provide true attribution data.

With today’s technology, multi-touch attribution is the only way for a marketer to really know whether their marketing influences their customers and ultimately leads them into the dealership, resulting in a sale or repair order. However, without a way for dealers to see an integrated, holistic view of how all their marketing is performing and being interacted with, multi-touch attribution is an arduous and time-consuming process.

I reached out to VistaDash President, Dan Moore, for his thoughts on vendor dashboards and the challenges that dealers have faced over the years.

Dan shared the following: “Today, a dealer has several different providers and has to go into each one of these individual dashboards and then try and make sense of the data. If they are lucky, they can decipher the Morse code. If they happen to be an overachiever, they export that data into a master excel spreadsheet and try to get a single view of how all their campaigns are performing. The problem is that, as dealers, they know one thing – and that is how to sell cars. The aspect of digital marketing to many dealers is still foreign. It’s the ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ dilemma. Even if they tried to figure it out, oftentimes they don’t know what they should be doing or acting upon.”

Dan continued, “An integrated, single dashboard gives them a clear view on what is causing engagement. Generic data like pageviews and impressions don’t mean anything – those seven pageviews could mean their marketing is working, or it could mean their website sucks, because one visitor had to click through seven pages to find what they were looking for. What dealers need to know is if people are engaging with their website in ways that matter – are they clicking on vehicle images on a VDP? Are they filling out trade-in value forms? Credit application forms? And, of course, the bottom line that any dealer wants to know – Is that marketing selling me more cars.”

Before you take on yet “Another Damn Dashboard” – make sure you know the following:

  1. What questions are you trying to answer?
  2. Does the dashboard provide a holistic view of all your marketing activities? Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. BUT there are some critical pieces that must be included.
  3. Does the dashboard include basic attribution or advanced attribution reporting?

Here are some key points that your dashboard should provide on both a basic and advanced level:


  • Metrics and cost data from Third Party Auto sites
  • Metrics and cost data from all digital marketing partners
  • Multi-touch attribution models for engagement and leads
  • Access to AdWords to validate clicks and impressions


  • Traditional media support, TV, Direct Mail etc., with metrics and cost data
  • View-through attribution support for both display and Third Party Auto sites
  • Email open and click tracking
  • Multi-touch attribution models for sales

Vendors should take a more attribution-friendly approach and make their data more accessible to attribution companies. Then dealers can actually focus on the data and make more informed decisions on budget allocation based on a multi-touch attribution model, rather than relying on data they can’t comprehend. It’s goodbye “Another Damn Dashboard” and hello true actionable data that gets results!