Many exciting events and discussions happened during NADA this year, including the Super Bowl. Held in Las Vegas, the center focus of the convention and several workshops was without a doubt the internet.

JD Rucker from Soshable noted in his Business Insider article, “Where Consumers Go, Car Dealers Will Follow: #NADA2012,” the shift in amount of internet focused workshops at NADA – 13, while service and parts only had about 4 workshops between them.

“Past shows have highlighted new technologies in fixed ops (service and parts), inventory management, desking techniques (the art of putting together the deal) and other components that are normally only associated with the business of running a dealership. For the past couple of years, solutions for doing better on the internet have increasingly-filled the booth spaces and workshop schedules, but 2012’s conference is appearing to be a completely dominated by discussions of the internet.

“Social media, search marketing, website design, and reputation management are the hottest topics being covered. As the digital age reaches its highest peak with consumers flocking to their iPads and Google when searching for a new vehicle, so too are dealers following.”

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The fact that the Super Bowl was right in the middle of NADA is fitting and supports this trend from what we saw in this year’s automotive ads. Social Media was the key to success, or at least the trend in how brands were getting their message out there prior to kickoff. It wasn’t only about the ads, but about getting consumers involved and sending them to the brand’s Facebook page in some cases rather than an inventory page.

Rucker’s Business Insider article also quoted Vanessa Mason from Chevrolet Humble Texas as saying, “Classified ads and radio spots simply aren’t doing it anymore. When people think about buying a vehicle, there’s only one place they go for the most part.”

If automotive dealers thought that online marketing was still falling behind traditional marketing like TV, radio, and print, NADA seems to be saying otherwise. eMarketer also reported some interesting numbers in a recent article, “US Online Ad Spend to Close in on $40 Billion”:

“This year, US online ad spending will exceed the total spent on print magazines and newspapers for the first time, at $39.5 billion vs. $33.8 billion. And as online shoots up, the print total will continue to inch downward.”

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The internet, social media, and all things digital are where the automotive industry is heading.