Mobile Fuels Automotive Marketing

As consumers use phones to research cars, marketers are following, AdAge reports. "It used to be people shopped for cars in dealerships. But now they are making their car-​buying decisions at the gym, the gas station or the deli."

"The desktop computer is losing relevance in the auto industry almost as quickly as the car salesperson as buyers turn to their smartphones to finalize car-​buying decisions and research options while going about daily routines," E.J. Schultz wrote in AdAge​.com.

Autotrader​.com Users could be just the type of audience your automotive dealers want to go after. According to AudienceSCAN, 15.2% of Autotrader​.com Users downloaded a buying guide or pricing app (not tied to a specific brand) in the past 6 months.

The average car buyer makes just two visits to dealerships, but one in four purchasers use mobile every day to research vehicles, according to a report late last year by Google that cited data from researchers including Millward Brown and TNS. Twenty-​seven percent of people do most of their vehicle research on a mobile device, according to a recent study by Ipsos commissioned by Facebook. And among coveted consumer groups the rate is even higher: 45% of millennials, 48% of Hispanics and 41% of people with household incomes greater than $200,000 are mobile-​first auto consumers.

You know they're on their phones, so convince dealers to help buyers with their research via mobile marketing. AudienceSCAN found that 35.7% of Autotrader​.com Users are holding iPhones. And 32.2% of Autotraders downloaded apps for a product they're considering.

That explains why ad dollars keep migrating to mobile. In 2015, the auto sector spent $3.43 billion on mobile ads in the U.S., representing 47% of the industry's total digital ad spending, according to eMarketer. The trend mirrors the move to mobile in other so-​called high consideration categories, like home buying. "These [purchasing] journeys that you used to sit for all day on Saturday and try to figure it all out, now people do this in these small stolen moments on their phone," said Lisa Gevelber, VP-​marketing for Google's ad business.

Let your advertisers know that 27.3% of Autotrader​.com Users think advertising on mobile apps is useful to them, according to AudienceSCAN.

Schultz reveals some ways automakers are targeting mobile-​first buyers:

Swipe left
"Nissan and Dodge are among the brands using a new automotive search ad format from Google that is geared for mobile and takes viewers directly from Google​.com to a carousel of swipable car images showing how vehicles look inside and out. If the image is tapped, more information, like MPG, is displayed, while a "dealers" link reveals nearby dealers."

Make it personal
"Using 100 video clips, [Saatchi & Saatchi LA] and Cloneless Media created more than 100,000 unique video ads starring actor James Marsden [for Toyota.] Ads were served to users based on their Facebook habits such as likes and searches. So if a person was into video games and fantasy sports, they got a video referencing those hobbies."

AudienceSCAN also found that 34.2% of Autotrader​.com Users think advertising on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is useful.

Localize It
"Automakers are also using mobile location data to target messages. Ford has run ads that use local weather and other data to target messages, like one ad that stated: "Beat Labor Day humidity (& frizzy hair) with Ford Fusion's available dual zone temp control."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.