If Google executives have it right, U.S. consumers will be accessing as much information through their smartphones as they do through computers by the middle of next year. This leaves marketers in the position of scrambling to catch up with tech-savvy computers. For auto dealers, the race is on to connect with consumers through their smartphones.

Speaking at the DrivingSales Executive Summit, Tai Kim of Google says that dealers must optimize their sites for mobile or risk losing potential customers who will not want to wait for data to load. Today’s car buyers are looking at 18 various media formats when they are considering buying a car. So providing multiple touch points for consumers increases the chances of attracting attention. According to Jonika Hoomes, another Google executive, “46% of local online searches result in phone calls to the dealer and 37% lead to a visit to the showroom.”

The focus on smartphones was echoed in the Auto Buyers Forecast released earlier this year by Ad-ology Research. Consumers surveyed in that report are using smartphones as follows during their auto buying process:

  • Comparing prices 53.1%
  • Taking photos of an auto under consideration 41.2%
  • Viewing a dealership website: 33.3%

During the DrivingSales Executive Summit, Hoomes emphasized that having an always available virtual showroom can reach the 30% of consumers who are searching during off hours.

Consumers who are auto shopping are highly engaged in the process for about 1 month. During that time, 24% end up buying a different car than they were initially considering. Auto dealers who are successful in connecting with consumers during this time stand a good chance of winning a new customer. Increasingly, the best way to make this contact is through mobile platforms.

[Source: Zoia, David. Don’t Forget Mobile, Google Tells Dealers. Wardsauto.com. 12 Oct. 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011;