Co-operative marketing programs are the ultimate win-win for brands and their channel partners — so why do so many precious co-op dollars go unspent?

After all, co-op marketing makes perfect sense. Brands develop marketing strategies, their retailers execute them in their local market, and both parties share the costs.

But one study by research firm Borrell Associates found that local advertisers are leaving behind US$14 billion in co-op marketing dollars — every year!

US$14 billion in co-op marketing dollars lost — every year!

So why aren’t more retailers tapping into these subsidized dollars? The study found that 38 percent of local businesses said the greatest barrier to co-op marketing is “too much paperwork.”

“Development of platforms that enable workflow automation would go far to make the co-op advertising process easier for manufacturers and the often over-burdened merchants who run co-op campaigns,” according to the whitepaper “Co-op Advertising: Digital’s Lost Opportunity?” by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB.)

One vehicle manufacturer that did embrace a next generation workflow automation platform to manage their co-op marketing is Volkswagen Canada. They successfully replaced onerous paperwork and tedious reporting by activating the MyFunds module within their MyAdBox marketing automation platform.

“I can’t imagine running this program if we didn’t have this online tool,” said Jenny Ma, Dealer Marketing Manager, Volkswagen Canada. She said that more than 90% of Volkswagen’s 143 dealerships across Canada are now using the platform to submit co-op claims. “I feel like it would be impossible to manage that many claims through email.”

But that’s exactly how the program used to run. Even worse, some of the brand’s franchisees used to mail in the copies of their print ads, screen captures of digital ads and invoices for paid media to co-op program managers. It was slow, painful and inefficient.

“It was old school,” said Yan Savaria, Digital Marketing Manager, with Groupe Duvalauto, a dealership group with a Volkswagen franchise located in Boucherville, Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province.

“Now it’s really, really easy,” said Savaria. “It’s like CRM but for co-op marketing. It gives us an edge we didn’t have before.”

Savaria said that before MyFunds, the dealership submitted co-op advertising claims once a quarter when prompted by head office. The marketing team scrambled to gather copies of three months of ads, all the associated invoices, stuffed them into an envelope and mailed them off. Then they had to wait to see which local marketing campaigns would be approved and eligible for reimbursement.

Now, Savaria said he simply uploads the co-op claims to head office with a few clicks inside the MyFunds platform. Having the whole process of claiming and approvals within one platform makes everything easy to find, track and reference back to.

Making life easier for their franchise partners also makes life simpler for program managers at head office. They can set up new co-op programs, post eligibility rules, and manage approvals and budgets all within the MyFunds platform.

“With this tool, it made everything so easy and simple to manage,” said Volkswagen Canada’s Jenny Wa. “The feedback I have received from dealers is very positive. It’s really easy to use on their end.”

When it comes to managing the money, MyFunds provides the channel partners and their brands with easy to access dashboards that keep the network up to date with what has been spent and funds remaining.

“Now all the accounting is there in the system. It’s way easier to see what you have to spend for the rest of the year,” said Savaria, adding that it’s like using online banking that lets you know the status of your accounts.

MyFunds also makes it easy to track and claim digital ads — an area many co-op programs are missing out on. “About 80% of today’s co-op advertising dollars are spent offline,” according to an article in Ecoconsultancy. “The main obstacles that have held back the growth of digital co-op were a lack of automation, reporting capabilities and transparency. These problems are being solved, allowing digital co-op to take off.”

The authors expect digital co-op spending to grow faster than any other ad format, in part fueled by the success of digital co-op programs from tech giant Amazon. “Amazon’s ad revenue, then, comes from co-op. And now everyone else is following Amazon’s lead. Google’s new co-op products – Sponsored Product Ads and a co-op PLA (Product Listing Ad) solution, aim to compete with Amazon.”

MyFunds is directly tied to Volkswagen’s MyAdBox brand automation platform which makes it easier for dealerships to access advertising campaign assets from within the platform.

MyAdbox is a SaaS company that has developed its own unique brand automation platform and ancillary software/client services that are being used by big brands on four continents around the globe to drive down marketing production costs in their networks and generate tangible brand benefits.

It’s time to unlock the hidden potential of your co-op marketing programs, and drive more local business success for your network.

For more information about MyFunds and the other MyAdbox brand automation products contact us.