YouTube TrueView Ads Provide Honda Dealer 12x ROI

I’m a big fan of Columbo, the TV series starring Peter Falk. But, that’s not what I’m going to write about this week. Instead, I’m going to interview Richard Bustillo, who used YouTube TrueView ads to double the monthly trade-in vehicles at Rick Case Honda, resulting in a 12x return on investment.

Bustillo worked his way up in the dealer world, starting as a salesman. He sold 26 cars in his first month, making more money that month than he’d made the previous year. After working at several dealerships and boosting their performances, Bustillo was invited by auto industry pioneers, Rick and Rita Case to be the General Manager for Rick Case Honda.

Rick Case Honda has a 600,000 square-foot facility in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area that houses 1,500 new Hondas. The facility includes not only a showroom, but also a state-of-the-art collision center, a gas station, a County Clerk’s Office, and even a barber shop. Yet, Bustillo still saw opportunities to improve the store.

Since April 2008, Bustillo has helped Rick Case Honda generate record breaking sales, despite the tough economy. Much of this is attributed to an emphasis on cross-functional integration, on valued customer experiences, and on Bustillo’s push for Rick Case Honda to adopt better digital and video marketing strategies.

‘You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out’
In 2011, Bustillo attended the Automotive Leadership Roundtable, where he was exposed to a variety of digital marketing strategies. After returning from the trip, Bustillo started Rick Case Honda on a paid search strategy, before incorporating online video, reputation management, and social media. The marketing team soon found that video advertising converted four times as much as other advertising strategies.

After his early success, Bustillo was asked to speak at a number of automotive marketing conferences. He then met AJ LeBlanc, Managing Partner of, who told Bustillo about their unique and scalable video production offerings. Bustillo had already worked with a handful of video vendors and also produced video in-house, but realized’s video production capabilities were completely different, and offered an opportunity for growth.

In the fall of 2012, Bustillo and LeBlanc came up with the idea to create YouTube TrueView in-stream ads promoting the distinctive features of Honda to encourage trade-in. That same year, the 2012 Compete Google Automotive Shopping study discovered that 21 percent of vehicle shoppers find online video content about vehicle trade-ins useful for their research process.

After launching the TrueView ads, the dealership doubled the number of trade-ins from a competing make from 10 per month to 20 per month. Rick Case Honda was now earning an incremental $50,000+ for online videos that cost $0.20 – $0.30 per view. Monthly unique site visitors had also increased by over 18 percent. Bustillo says, “That’s targeted video that you can tie back and figure out ROI… You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out!”

‘We’re only scratching the surface’
Despite Bustillo’s continued success with digital, he recognizes that “we’re not where we want to be yet — we’re still evolving. There’s so much we can do and we’re only scratching the surface.”

Moving forward, Bustillo and LeBlanc are looking to test more online video ideas, including launching Spanish videos, and finding ways to integrate more video content onto the Rick Case Honda website.

Bustillo also emphasizes the importance of his website as a critical component in ensuring the success of his online video campaigns. He says, “It is important to make sure your website is user-friendly to make sure that when video pre-roll sends traffic to your site, users engage with your brand and then come to your store. It’s all interconnected.”

He adds, “You gotta look at it all the way down the road. When you integrate every department… everyone benefits from video pre-roll… If you only look at it from metrics such as views, that’s very short-sighted. You have to open your eyes and look at everything, so that you can see the full benefit of what you can accomplish.”

‘Oh, uh, a few more questions for my story, sir.’
Using my best impression of Columbo’s investigative style, I thanked Richard Bustillo for his interview and turned to leave – only to turn back at the last second as if I’d suddenly remembered something. Then I politely said, “Oh, uh, a few more questions for my story, sir.”
GJ: Can you tell us why you partnered with
RB: It wasn’t difficult to realize that Video was the next evolution in internet marketing. We wanted to make sure we positioned ourselves with the best company in that space. We felt Car-Mercial produced OEM quality videos that could convert and they did.
GJ: After launching the ads, were you surprised that the dealership doubled the number of trade-ins from a competing make from 10 per month to 20 per month?
RB: I was very surprised. As a car dealer, we are always looking for ways to figure out our ROI. After a few months with, we started to notice that an increase in our conquest trades. That was track-able. Now we knew we had ROI.
GJ: Rick Case Honda is earning an incremental $50,000+ a month from online videos that cost only $0.20 to $0.30 per view. How many views do you typically need before you get a trade-in?
RB: When you take into consideration every dollar generated from a trade in (i.e. reconditioning, sale, etc.) we make that and more. What it costs to generate a trade in is another story. It depends on the time of month, the models we’re targeting and the Honda incentives, which varies.
GJ: How do you know monthly unique visitors to your site have also increased by over 18 percent?
RB: That information is based on Google Analytics. I know where everyone is coming from. It’s a simple and fantastic way to get your data.
GJ: Based on your initial success, what do you plan to do next?
RB: I am just figuring out this Video SEO and Pre-roll. Give me a couple of months and get back to me on that question.