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Automotive Digital Advertising Trends By The Numbers

Automotive Digital Advertising Trends By The Numbers

As humans living in 2014, we know two things:

  1. At some point in our lives, we’ll need a new car. Whether it’s because your old clunker finally gave out, you need a new commuter car to get you to work, a truck to haul your motorcycle, a minivan to take the kids to soccer practice or that mid-life crisis need with a Corvette, you will find yourself in need of an upgrade.
  1. The internet now plays a large part in most of the purchase decisions we make. With Google search, review sites, YouTube, comment boards etc.; the internet makes impulse buying nearly impossible!

So now we have arrived at the question: what kind of role does digital play in the process of purchasing a new vehicle?

Glad you asked! Digital plays a bigger part now than ever before and it’s very clear in the auto vertical.

With our experience with automotive PPC advertising and little help from Google, we were able to gain these four key insights on digital’s effect on the vertical’s purchase funnel:

Auto Shoppers are open to influence:

Today’s car shoppers are open-minded with 72% of search sessions involving cross-shopping.

What I mean by cross-shopping is that users now use multiple sources while in the market to buy a new vehicle. For example, Google search, YouTube videos, review sites, word of mouth, OEM websites, dealer websites etc.

In-market shoppers are researching more than ever:

Users are looking for more and more information online before making a purchase decision. Data shows while time in-market is roughly the same, shoppers are turning to 24 touch points on average.

Research also shows that 3 of 5 top ad formats prompting research were digital.

Connected devices are driving greater research activity:

Mobile usage for automotive has increased 35% year over year, with a focus on research and comparison activity.

Mobile isn’t the future. Mobile is NOW. PPC strategies moving forward must have a mobile first mindset.

Shoppers turn to mobile for a variety of reasons. Some examples include: viewing images of the vehicle, calling the dealer, reading reviews, locating and getting directions to a dealer.

Mobile usage continues while the user is on the lot. Mobile devices give users the ability to research & compare while at the dealership.

Online video research is on the rise among auto shoppers:

84% of video researchers plan to watch auto videos the next time they shop for a car.

The amount of time spent watching videos is growing. Over half of auto shoppers now watch 30 minutes or more. 25% watched an hour or more while researching. That’s up 57% over last year!

Video advances brand discovery and consideration. Both discovery/awareness AND consideration phases are heavily influenced by video.

  • 57% of users said watching videos online helped introduce new brands to them.
  • 74% of users say online videos help them learn more about specific cars/trucks
  • 37% of users say online video ads helped prompt brand consideration
  • One of the best data nuggets provided by Google was that 49% of users visited a dealer after watching a video.

So what does all this data mean? For PPC advertisers, it means strategies must include a multi-device approach every stage of the automotive purchase funnel – Discovery/Awareness, Consideration and Decision.

These numbers, from our perspective. aren’t surprising at all. We’ve always built highly successful and effective campaigns using cross-device search, display, video and social strategies. Check out our

To learn more about cross-device, multi-channel campaigns, give us a shout today!


Davis Baker
Davis is the PPC Team Lead at Forthea and a digital advertising veteran of six years. Outside of the office, you can find Davis running, riding his dirt bike, or searching for the perfect cup of coffee (freshly ground and brewed with a French press. Anything less just won't cut it).

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