Why TV Advertising Is Still the Driving Force Behind Auto Sales

By NY Interconnect InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Why TV Advertising Is Still the Driving Force Behind Auto Sales

A multi-platform approach is essential in successfully targeting auto buyers. But it's important to remember that, when it comes to reaching those potential buyers, TV advertising still tops the list. If your auto client is considering scaling back on their television media buy, then they're in danger of missing out on the most important aspect of the auto buyer's purchase journey. It's a choice that could end up costing them way more than it saves.

Automotive continues to be one of the largest category spenders in media, and if your client wants a piece of that sizeable revenue, you need to catch the potential customer at the beginning of their buying cycle. Today's auto buyer experiences three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. Targeting prospective buyers early, specifically through television advertising, pays the highest dividends.

Data-driven linear and addressable TV advertisinglet you target with precision, getting your client's car ad or dealership spot in front of the right buyer. Add any other addressable targeting to the mix, such as OTT or live streaming, and you can reach the auto customer wherever and whenever they watch content. If you don't put your client in front of the auto buyer early enough, the campaign is likely to run out of gas before it even gets on the road. Here's why:

The Awareness Stage: The first step in the auto buyer cycle is when prospective customers begin to realize they will soon need a new car. This is brought on by anything from a lifestyle change, such as expanding one's family, to experiencing one-too-many trips to the mechanic, to reaching the end of a lease.

Whatever the catalyst, this is when prospective auto buyers start to keep an eye on their options, contemplating what kind of car they're going to purchase. Considering the multitude of choices, this can feel like an overwhelming endeavor. Where do they start? TV ads.

The Consideration Stage: Once the prospective auto buyer starts to consider their options, they begin to take notice of what they see in TV commercials. According to the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) "Start Your Engines" report, TV ranks first in helping consumers form their consideration list. In fact, of those who were surveyed, 45 percent of buyers ages 25–54 and 46 percent of buyers ages 18–34, reported that TV ads helped them select the make, model, and dealerships they planned to explore. Additionally, a considerable 76 percent of auto manufacturers stated a definitive correlation between TV spend and website traffic.

The Forbes article "TV Advertising Remains Huge Sales Motivator for Car Buyers, Even in Digital Era: Study" included an interview with Sean Cunningham, president and CEO of VAB, who spoke about the importance of TV advertising in relation to digital traffic. "The truth is that TV and digital work together very well," said Cunningham. "TV has done a good job of fueling digital, which does an especially good job with dealer offerings…. When you need to mobilize customers en masse, in a tight timeframe…, TV is going to light up their online instruments and fill dealer showrooms with traffic."

Here at NYI, one of our leading auto manufacturer clients ran a campaign focused on raising awareness and sales for a specific line of vehicles being sold in the New York market. Their objective was to reach the TV and digital consumers most likely to buy the vehicles. The results showed that households exposed to both TV and digital ads delivered the highest conversion rate — a 131 percent incremental sales lift — with sales revenue of $4 million and an ROI of $10.46 for every dollar spent.

If the bulk of marketing dollars is exclusively spent on digital advertising, they could likely miss the all-important consideration phase where the auto buyer is narrowing their options. Plus, when you add the ability to target consumers directly through addressable and linear advertising, you're steering buyers directly toward your client's brand or dealership.

Translation: Media buyers need to put a client's brand in front of the auto customer during the consideration stage. TV advertising — both addressable and data-driven linear — is the key to getting prospective buyers to pursue a specific brand or dealership.

The Decision Stage: Finally, the auto buyer wraps up their online research, visits dealerships, goes out for test drives, reviews financials, and makes their purchase. Knowledge of the process and the ability to target help make this a win-win for all involved.

So, if you want to drive up revenue for your auto client, remember the cycle of the consumer's journey. Digital is important, but it's also important to lock in your TV media buy if you want to make sure that your client's campaign is fully loaded.

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