Hello everyone! I've been a lurker around here for quite some time, gaining insight here and there. Over the past few weeks I have made a few startling discoveries with in regards to our digital marketing group that has consumed a huge part of our advertising budget. This post will almost certainly be lengthy, but try to stick with me.. We have a medium size dealership, moving roughly 250 units a month, and usually perform well by most metrics. However, last year we saw a noticeable decline in the amount of internet leads coming in. I'm not normally responsible for managing this, as our GM has an analytics company that compiles our monthly report along with our local 'newspaper' company (owned by Gannett). The monthly spend with the company amounts to roughly $25k/month. $4,500 of which is allocated towards 'PPC', the rest is spent on 'transitionals' and various forms of pop-up style advertising on the newspapers website, along with display advertising and e-blasts. We have almost no insight into what's going on with them, the only metrics that are really paid attention to in our monthly meetings is our visit count. Month in month out we continue spending the same amount. We have no idea how the PPC campaign is being managed (or even what the ACTUAL spend is vs. what cut they take). We do not even see the number of clicks for PPC. GM is given a planned budget for this year, about the same as last year only slightly more. Every dollar for the year planned ahead of time with $4,500 going towards PPC every single month. Which in my opinion reeks of mismanagement and complacency. I was asked last week by the GM to analyze our ad spend with them, and to be honest with him and tell him if I thought he had his head up his ass (his words, not mine). So I begun digging. I started performing some search queries (noting that our dealership external IP address was not being filtered, red flag number one). I found, pretty much what I expected, an extremely general 'branding' style campaign. Which, personally, doesn't make a whole lot of sense given our strong brand presence already, but whatever, this was a deficiency I anticipated finding. Before I discuss the next event, let's jump back a few weeks. GM calls me up, screaming on the phone, "It just took 1 minute to load our website, FIX IT!" Okay, I hop onto our website, everything seems to be loading in typical fashion nothing amiss, I attribute it to poor cell phone data reception. Okay, back to the SEM analysis. I click on our PPC ad, and I wait...and wait...eventually our pages displays, however it is moving EXTREMELY slow. Every database request the website is making to the server is incurring an additional 10 sec. of overhead. From the main page, for example, if you're looking for inventory and using the dropdowns to narrow your search, every selection requires an additional server call (New/Used -> 10 sec. -> Make -> 10 sec. -> Model -> 10 sec. etc.). When I see the slowdown, my brain starts immediately connecting the dots. When our GM looks for our website, he types our name into Google (because of course he does), and clicks the top link. Which is almost always an ad, as our PPC company is clearly targeting almost our name exclusively. When I visit our website I just type the URL into the address bar. But how could this be? Why would our website be so much slower via PPC ad than direct/organic? They're forwarding through a proxy, that's how. Their display url(and forwarding url) used "www.automotivedealer.co" not "www.automotivedealer.com". Upon looking at the ad, an invalid 800 tracking number was also being used. So at this point, I'm thinking, "WTF we've been sending our traffic to this shitty version of our website for...how long? Surely this couldn't have gone unnoticed for that long." When I saw the '401 unauthorized' console error messages while browsing the '.co' version of our site, I immediately had to submit a test lead using the forms on our site, as I know POST requests can occasionally have issue with forms coming from a separate origin hostname. I click the 'get e-price' button, wait the 10 sec. delay for the form to pop up, then fill out information, wait 10 sec, then get the "Thank you, your lead has been submitted and you will hear from us shortly!". I'm thinking, "Great, that could have been bad". HOWEVER, the lead never actually goes to our CRM. Not at all. No trace of it anywhere, tested multiple times. Okay..how long has this been going on..seriously..I need to know how many people submitted forms requesting information about a specific vehicle that we never knew about. Again..SURELY this is a recent development, as this should have been caught almost immediately. I started looking into a our Google Analytics account, and noticed something strange again. The utm information from the url string in the ad wasn't showing up anywhere. If I clicked on our ads, I couldn't see myself browsing via GA 'real-time'. Nothing. I discovered the GA account that our analytics company uses was filtered the the specific hostname of 'www...com'. Stepping up a level, I was immediately able to see the missing traffic and began analyzing. There were ~12,000 clicks to our '.co' domain, with ~150 form submissions beginning at July 1, 2017. So not only was our PPC not working, it was effectively stealing our organic traffic (since we almost always rank #1 on organic for our brand searches), sending them to a shitty website where if they're even able to get to a VDP and submit a lead, we won't know about it. *mind blown* Anyway, this post is getting a little out of hand, so I'll just summarize the next part. The rest of the ad budget with this company ~20k/month, also showed extremely poor performance over the entirety of last year, averaging less than 2 views/session, and the total number of form submissions that can be attributed to their traffic sitting at a ridiculously low '2'. Has anyone else dealt with a situation similar to this? Spending astronomical sums on extremely poor performance with no indicator of actual performance besides 'pageviews'? I'm currently building a comprehensive report to go over all of this before we bring in the company and discuss.