Kia Motors America Shifts Gears in Radio’s Favor

Kia Motors America wants to cut its hefty dependence on third-party shopping sites for online sales leads and we applaud this strategy 100%. Kia’s goal is to bring more quality leads to their dealers by directing prospects to and not buy and sell “leads” to their dealers from third party sites such as,, and, to name just a few.

The problem, which is industry wide, is that these third party sites do not offer the quality leads that dealers need to convert to a sale. The current internet definition of an auto internet lead is anyone breathing who has filled in their contact information. The second issue is one of price expectations. These third party sites boast about lower dealer prices if one registers with them.

So, what is the Kia dealer getting when it buys third party leads from these and other auto aggregating sites?

Unqualified leads and prospects who have an expectation of a lower price since, after all, this is the internet and these sites promote lower dealer prices. Not only are the leads that Kia dealers are buying unqualified, the prospect is expecting low, low prices and begins the discussion with “What deal are you offering me?” 

Ask any new car dealer about third party internet leads and the reaction will range from sheer anger to an indifferent shrug. They know so much of what they buy in terms of leads never amounts to a sale, wastes their salespeople’s time, and worst of all, they are paying either the sites or their own factory for the privilege of hunting down wasted leads and squandering precious selling time chasing unqualified buyers who are rarely converted to real prospects. Moreover, many of the leads are duplicates sold to other competing dealers so the value of the internet lead is reduced even further. In short, it is a considerable waste of time and money for all concerned who are in the business of selling cars, SUVs, and trucks.

To bring home this point with real numbers, a Kia report through May 2014 revealed that YTD Kia leads from third party auto websites totaled 266,472 which converted to only 20,252 vehicle sales. That’s a 7.6% conversion rate. Just 7.6%. One Kia dealer indicated that each lead costs his dealership $20.00. Simple math will tell us that at $20.00 per internet lead, Kia charged its dealers $5,329,440 YTD through May 2014. That was $5.3 million in internet lead charges for mostly unqualified, duplicated leads and price sensitive “shoppers.” Add to that the many wasted hours of an auto sales person’s time on the phone and email trying to qualify the lead, and our real cost for each lead more than doubles!

Multiply those same issues by at least 15 different auto manufacturers, to one degree or the other, and you now have a good idea of what a significant issue this is for most U. S. auto dealers.

Enter Southern California Radio.

To drive real prospects to, Kia Motors America needs only look to the reach, frequency, and motivation of Broadcast Radio’s unique, ubiquitous, and qualified consumer base of active, loyal listeners. If Kia’s goal, and indeed the industry’s, is to reduce unqualified leads and funnel more quality leads through their own website, what better partner than Radio to deliver that message effectively? Driving quality leads to is what Radio, with its 24/7 access on every known device, can do best! We can hear the new creative right now:

“To learn more about the exciting and complete line of KIA models, and for a dealer near you, please visit today! That’s for your new ride. See it all at!”

Now take that simple message to every Radio station’s loyal and interested listeners and then magnify that message on each station’s website, mobile app, streaming audio and video pre-roll, LIVE endorsements on air, and special Radio events that only Radio can create and produce, and Kia will now be able to deliver qualified leads to their frustrated dealers. The simple but compelling message for Kia and the auto industry is to bring qualified buyers to their respective websites for the real facts and information regarding their products. The auto industry should stop relying on third party sites whose sole existence is to offer “deals” to consumers which only cheapen their product and their brand.

Broadcast Radio and all of its audio and visual platforms can make a huge difference for Kia and every other manufacturer who has grown tired of chasing phantom and price sensitive internet leads.

Earlier we sited $5.3 million spent by Kia dealers for third party internet leads through May 2014. The SCBA proposes this simple test to Kia to unequivocally demonstrate Radio’s effectiveness in driving web traffic and qualified leads back to Kia dealers:

  • Invest and/or allocate $5 million to an extensive Radio campaign using Southern California Radio over the same 5 month time frame
  • Allow the SCBA and its members to consult with you on copy and other incentives to drive solid leads to
  • Let’s Monitor Radio’s progress together over this 5 month period and form a real partnership with Radio

Kia’s investment in Southern California Radio will:

  • Yield a much higher return than the 7.6% in auto sales they are getting from third party websites. How could it not?
  • Save thousands of dealer salespeople’s hours in auto retail prospecting
  • Produce more qualified leads since will be on Radio and not third party sites
  • Create a less price sensitive and more product knowledgeable prospect.

Oh, and as an extra by-product of investing in Southern California Radio, Kia can build their brand, market share, AND website traffic for years to come. We won’t be waiting for Kia’s phone call. Instead, we will engage them on this idea as soon as possible.

Radio’s time to drive solid leads and real customers to has come.
Thom Callahan

Southern California Broadcasters Association
Los Angeles