The automotive mobile advertising market nearly quadrupled in size in 2012, and continues to be the most competitive mobile advertising vertical worldwide. When viewing auto ads, comparing different cars’ features, or searching for auto dealers, mobile consumers’ high purchase intent, disposable incomes, and willingness to click on relevant ads all contribute to the dominance of this vertical.
With the U.S. auto industry’s digital ad spend projected to total over $5 billion this year, tracking the industry’s mobile adoption will be crucial to auto marketers and their partners.
Mobile and Auto: A Natural Fit
As with most industries, mobile auto enthusiasts skew young. 44% of millennials are likely to use their smartphones to compare prices or get new information, compared to 27% of non-millennials. As of November 2012, one-third of all search traffic for auto industry related terms came from mobile devices, and are most frequently used to compare cars’ features and prices, as well as to learn general auto information.
Mobile plays an important role in influencing purchase decisions, with half of mobile users that interact with a mobile auto app, advertisement, or search going on to make a related purchase. The most effective drivers of ad engagement are price and relevance, with 63% of mobile auto users clicking on ads that include a coupon or promotion, and 55% engaging with ads that are relevant to their searches.
However, many consumers do not engage with auto apps, searches, or ads on an ongoing basis, making vertical-specific targeting and interactions difficult. As a result, auto marketers must target interested automotive audiences in a roundabout way by conducting cross-vertical promotions through financial services, news, social networking, and search channels, where the auto-interested consumers will lie.
Clearly, it’s important for auto dealers, manufacturers, and service providers to create mobile-optimized sites in order to successfully interact with the increasingly mobile consumer, as well as invest in mobile solutions that will drive traffic to their website(s). Mobile consumers’ auto purchasing decisions will be influenced by the search content and in-app advertisements that they see; marketers must therefore successfully compete with each other for consumers’ mobile mind share in order to fully realize mobile’s ability to connect with consumers.