Former Google Automotive Research Lead Joins Foundation Direct to Boost Consumer Data-Driven Decisions

Michael Heidner Joins Foundation Direct as VP of Strategy and Business Development

Foundation Direct, a new technology and consulting company offering automotive marketers an industry-leading option to “Go Direct” with their digital advertising, is pleased to announce Michael Heidner as their new VP of Strategy and Business Development. Mike joins Foundation Direct from Google, where he led Automotive Research and notably drove the analysis behind and creation of Google’s ‘5 Auto Shopping Micro-Moments’.

“Remaining ahead of industry trends by maintaining a deep understanding of auto shoppers’ changing behaviors — especially in light of the last year of change — is crucial to our success as a company, and our dealers’ success winning customers online. Mike brings extensive expertise and thought leadership on automotive trends and consumer behaviors,” says co-founder Andrew Diffenderfer. “He has analyzed the consumer journey data of hundreds of thousands of auto shoppers across hundreds of digital and traditional touchpoints. His understanding of today’s auto shopper and their use of digital to buy a vehicle is unmatched. We’re excited to leverage these insights and trends to continue innovating and driving results for dealerships.”

Foundation Direct’s CEO, Peter Leto also noted, “Mike has a unique ability to find salient insights amongst vast amounts of data. He has a proven record of both researching consumer behaviors and using them to drive strategic business decisions. While you might not recognize his name, you’ve seen his work — represented on Keynote Stages across events like Digital Dealer, NADA, J.D. Power Auto Revolution, and more. We are excited to add him to our team as we continue to evolve our technology and the media strategies we use to connect dealers to buyers.”

Mike helped lead Google’s annual Path To Purchase Research Study beginning in 2013, where he analyzed hundreds of thousands of auto purchaser survey responses, clickstream behaviors, and qualitative interviews through the years. He notably drove the analysis behind and creation of Google’s ‘5 Auto Shopping Micro-Moments’. Before Google, he helped launch and produce content for FOX Sports’ regional websites and worked with the television sales teams on activation.

“Insights and trends are my passion, and I’ve been lucky to witness and report on the changes of automotive shopper behaviors over the past several years — from the growth of mobile usage on dealer lots, to how people discover vehicles with search, to understanding video’s role in the research process. I am excited to join Foundation Direct on their journey to disrupt the market by offering best-in-class solutions aligned to dealer and vehicle purchaser expectations,” says Michael Heidner, the new VP of Strategy for Foundation Direct.

Mike holds a Bachelors in Economics and a Master of Science – Business Analytics from the University of Michigan. Mike also empowers those starting their careers in data analysis and visualization, where he taught as a professor at Wayne State University in the subject of Data Science and Leadership, to graduate students across the country.

Mike was born and raised in Metro Detroit where he continues to reside. He has deep blue-collar ties to the automotive industry with his mom having worked the assembly line at the Ford Mustang plant and at the railroad where his father helped ship vehicles across North America. When not digging into data or analyzing consumer shopping behavior, Mike enjoys traveling with his wife Cassandra.

About Foundation Direct

Foundation Direct was created to give OEMs, regional associations, automotive groups, and dealerships the ability to take their ad dollars directly to Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Microsoft, enabling them to spend less on margin, invest more in media, and drive better business results.

Visit https://foundationdirect.com/ for more information.

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Ashlyn Stewart

Customer Centric Automotive Veteran Joins Foundation Direct team to Disrupt Conventional Agency Model

Ashlyn Stewart joins Foundation Direct as VP of Client Experience

Ashlyn StewartFoundation Direct, a new technology and consulting company offering automotive marketers an industry-leading option to “Go Direct” with their digital advertising, is pleased to announce Ashlyn Stewart as their new VP of Client Experience. Ashlyn joins Foundation Direct from AutoLeadStar, where she led the Dealer Experience and Technical Support Team.

“It was crucial that our VP of Client Experience was to bring a deep understanding of our customers, their business priorities, and their many options for succeeding in today’s ever-changing digital landscape,” says co-founder Andrew Diffenderfer. “Ashlyn’s experience combines an impressive depth of knowledge on dealership operations, breadth of diverse experience across automotive partners, and an unwavering focus on the clients’ best interests. Ashlyn’s role will help us keep the customer at the heart of everything we do at Foundation Direct today, and everything we’re building towards in the years to come.”

“Dealerships today are realizing that the right technology can replace the old high-margin, limited-transparency agency model… and can drive better business results. Foundation Direct’s solution offers just that – a new way forward that’s focused on improving the bottom line across all profit centers,” says Stewart. “As customers expect more, dealers are pushed to provide more. Steve Jobs once said, ‘You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology,’ and here at Foundation Direct we strive to do just that, empowering dealerships to deliver highly relevant, reimagined customer experiences at exactly the right moments.”

Ashlyn has spent her career working for two of the fastest-growing automotive startups in the industry, where transparency and automation were not only focal points of their business but the foundation to their success. During Stewart’s tenure at TrueCar, she partnered closely with several of the top Dealer Groups in the US. Ashlyn was also part of the crucial team that helped build and scale TrueCar’s first Customer Success field team. A forward-thinking team that consulted with dealerships across the country to share best practices and provide valuable insights to capture missed opportunities to convert more customers to sales.

Ashlyn is from South Bend, Indiana, home of the Studebaker. She currently resides on the West Coast in Portland, Oregon with her family. Stewart is a graduate of Purdue University, with degrees in both Biology and Psychology. She is an advocate for empowering students through her partnership with Elevate Students. Elevate Students empowers communities to elevate character, self-esteem, academic success, and leadership abilities through curriculum and coaches.

Stewart’s experience, attitude and dedication will only strengthen Foundation Direct’s nationwide footprint.

About Foundation Direct

Foundation Direct was created to give OEMs, regional associations, automotive groups, and dealerships the ability to take their ad dollars directly to Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Microsoft, enabling them to spend less on margin, invest more in media, and drive better business results.

Visit https://foundationdirect.com/ for more information.

Original post: https://www.prnewswire.com/

Peter Leto, Foundation Direct CEO

Google’s Former Head of Automotive Retail Joins Foundation Direct as CEO

Peter Leto Appointed CEO of Foundation Direct, Effective Monday, Feb. 10, 2020

Peter Leto, Foundation Direct CEOFoundation Direct, a new technology and consulting company offering automotive marketers an industry-leading option to “Go Direct” with their digital advertising, is pleased to announce Peter Leto as their Chief Executive Officer. Peter joins Foundation Direct after 11 years at Google, where he served as Head of Industry for both the Automotive Retail Sales and General Motors business units.

“We wanted a CEO that would model honesty, transparency, and integrity from day one. Anyone who has met Peter knows he fits that bill,” says Foundation Direct co-founder Andrew Diffenderfer. “He has an undeniable track record of anticipating where the industry is headed, giving him the ability to prioritize his customers’ best interests and future-proof the business.”

In 2011, Peter began building Google’s Automotive Retail division. Known for dealer advocacy inside Google’s walls, Peter quickly became an industry staple as the beloved face of Google by both dealers and partners alike. During Leto’s tenure, Google partnered closely with OEMs to modernize dealer programs and improve cross-tier digital advertising efforts. Leto also led Google to begin consulting regional ad associations and automotive groups, arming both with valuable insight into regional-specific demand trends to capture missed opportunities to convert more customers to sales.

“It’s an honor to be reunited with former teammates to bring this exciting new solution to the industry,” says Leto. “When I first joined the automotive retail space, digital marketing was confusing and time-consuming, especially for auto dealers. Implementing, optimizing, and reporting on a digital campaign was a huge undertaking that required a lot of manual work. As a result, dealers began outsourcing their digital advertising to agencies. Yet, as the industry evolved and technology advanced, some agencies just couldn’t keep up, and their strategies were not aligned to the dealerships’ best interests,” explains Leto.

“Fast forward to today, and we have seen a dramatic shift in what is possible – both for the individual dealer and for OEMs, regional associations, and auto groups. The industry is no longer questioning what digital advertising is or why it’s important, but rather how to do it better. I’m excited to help provide an automated, tech-driven solution that will empower all automotive marketers to execute a digital strategy with ease and transparency,” says Leto.

“Peter is honest and fair. He tells you like it is in a respectful way and approaches clients’ business with advice and recommendations as if it were his own company,” says co-founder Tim Mueller. “At his core, he stands for the principles of Foundation, which is exactly why he’s a perfect fit to lead our company.”

Peter is from the Motor City, where he still lives with his wife and two daughters. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he started his career in TV ad sales with Turner Broadcasting (TBS/TNT) before joining Google in 2008. From 2008-2011, Peter worked in Google’s B2B Vertical, supporting large manufacturers like 3M, Newell Rubbermaid, and Dow Chemical, where he first learned about co-op marketing models.

Leto will join fellow teammate and COO Ashley Lepczyk in strengthening Foundation Direct’s footprint in metro Detroit.

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Ashley Lepczyk, Chief Operating Officer, Foundation Direct

Foundation Snags Long-Time Googler As COO To Accelerate New “Go Direct” Model

Ashley Lepczyk Appointed COO of Foundation Direct, effective Nov 25, 2019

Ashley LepczykFoundation Direct, a new technology and consulting company offering Automotive marketers an industry-leading option to take control of their digital advertising strategy by going direct to the largest digital media companies, today announced the appointment of Ashley Lepczyk as their Chief Operating Officer. Ashley joins Foundation Direct after 12 years at Google, where she worked on Automotive both in the US and globally.

“Ashley is known among her peers for having the tenacity to tackle large, complex challenges with positivity and enthusiasm, and has built deep relationships in both the automotive and tech industries along the way,” says Co-Founder Andrew Diffenderfer. “Her experience consulting the largest Automotive Digital Agencies, OEMs and Auto Groups, along with thousands of dealers, has given her a unique understanding of the complex — and sometimes systemic — challenges Foundation is solving for. All this — plus her ability to link a long term vision to day to day execution — is why bringing Ashley onboard as our COO made total sense, especially as we continue to grow.”

Lepczyk brings with her extensive insight on large-scale operations from her time at Google, where she spearheaded efforts to streamline the tech giant’s go-to-market strategy across multiple orgs and a $1B book of business. As a founding member of Google’s Automotive Retail team, she advised OEMs on designing successful digital advertising programs for their dealers and worked closely with both Auto Groups and Agency partners to demonstrate the business impact that digital marketing delivers for dealers and the incremental opportunity that still exists.

“I’m thrilled to be joining this uniquely disruptive company,” said Lepczyk. “My time at Google provided me the privilege of collaborating with automotive agencies and demo’ing the technologies that execute a large portion of dealerships’ digital marketing dollars. While there are some admirable options out there, nothing provided both the power and simplicity that I felt automotive marketers need to succeed in today’s digital environment. The solution that Foundation Direct has architected delivers the most impressive performance against true business outcomes and is intuitive and easy to use. I truly believe this will be a game-changing solution and am honored to play a role in bringing it to the industry.”

Ashley led the release of Google’s first ever Dealer Guidebook, which outlined a step-by-step process for maximizing Google’s tools and solutions at the dealership level. During her tenure, she successfully partnered with professionals in every level of leadership across sales, marketing, product engineering, analytics and more.

“Ashley’s ability to simplify highly complex topics into easily digestible concepts are the best in the business,” says Co-Founder Tim Mueller. “No automotive dealer or Auto Group needs more reports, they need better insights into what drives their business forward – Ashley can deliver just that – and that’s why we hired her”.

Lepczyk is an active advocate for women, in Automotive and beyond. Before joining Foundation Direct, she helped to lead Detroit’s Women@Google community and was responsible for initiating Google’s support of and participation in the Women In Automotive Conference. She is also Co-Founder of Mama In The Making, an online program that prepares pregnant women for the transition to motherhood and helps organizations support and retain their top female talent.

Lepczyk will extend Foundation Direct’s footprint with a location in metro Detroit.

Foundation Direct will be visiting major metro cities through the end of 2019 and early 2020. Please reach out to roadshow@foundationdirect.com for information on dates and locations.

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Foundation Direct

Two Former Googlers Disrupt Conventional Agency Model With New “Go Direct” Solution

Auto dealers enjoy innovative solution to digital marketing

Two former Google employees, both with extensive experience in the Automotive space, have recently left the tech giant to launch Foundation Direct, an industry-leading option for Automotive marketers to take control of their digital advertising strategy by going direct to the largest digital media companies.

“We created this company to give the industry a better option,” says Andrew Diffenderfer, Co-Founder of Foundation Direct. “We saw current automotive ad agencies overcomplicating digital marketing, using outdated strategies and tactics to do what technology can now do better, faster, and with higher levels of accuracy.”

Foundation Direct provides a robust technology platform that connects industry-leading automation with inventory, pricing and incentives. It integrates directly into Google, YouTube, Facebook and Microsoft, saving advertisers time and money while maximizing dealer profitability.

“We want to make it simple for dealers to have the best possible digital strategy without any headaches or frustration,” says Tim Mueller, Co-Founder of Foundation Direct. “This direct route provides unparalleled transparency into where dealers’ ad dollars are spent, and reduces administrative costs that are unnecessary given the technology we have today.”

During their time at Google, Diffenderfer and Mueller helped build Google’s Automotive Retail division, where they worked with thousands of dealers who faced similar challenges and shared similar sentiments.

“Google taught us how to think big and simple: how to use technology to solve problems. Leveraging tech to automate and customize your ad strategy allows you to move at the speed of the customer and differentiate your dealership,” said Diffenderfer.

While Foundation Direct aims to support the automotive industry with their “Go Direct” model, their solution also helps large tech partners by ensuring the ads served on their properties are as relevant and useful as possible to the end user.

“Today, a portion of a dealer’s budget goes straight to their agency or their OEM. Our platform ensures 100% of their ad spend goes directly into the media, giving the dealer total control of their strategy,” says Mueller.

Foundation Direct will be visiting major metro cities through November and December. Please reach out to roadshow@foundationdirect.com for information on dates and locations.

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