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Premium publishers vindicated in latest car advertising study

A new study commissioned by digital intelligence and marketing consultancy, Sophus3, has found that targeted ads placed in premium automotive publisher sites can increase visits to car brands by 67 percent. Other findings include test drive requests up 131 percent and visits to competitor sites down by 27 percent.

The study logged 200 million online car buying journeys across a group of seven premium UK automotive sites: AutocarAuto Express, Auto Trader, CAR magazine, CarBuyer, Parkers and What Car?. It also measured the impact of six million ad impressions served to an unspecified premium German car marque and tracked a total of 10.5 million visits to its site.

Entitled Value Ad: the influence of digital advertising within the car buyer’s journey, the study represents what is the largest ever study undertaken into the online car buying journey and analysed 135 million visits (January to May 2018).

Crucially, it revealed the key role premium automotive publisher sites play throughout the entire car-buying process. Targeted on site advertising within the aforementioned titles was found to increase traffic to brand sites by 25% above the 42% of browsers in the control group who weren’t served the ads.

Another significant finding of the research was the effect that advertising had on a buyer’s propensity to shop around. The study revealed that visitors to premium publishers’ sites and those exposed to the brand’s advertising were 27 percent less likely to visit a competitor brand’s website in the following seven-day period – the crucial period when consumers are finalising their short-list or final purchase.

The research also showed that exposure to advertising on a premium automotive publisher site resulted in a 237 percent increase in brochure requests within seven days, compared to ‘brand site only’ visits. 

Scott Gairns, Sophus3’s Managing Director, said, “What has been really exciting about this study is that with our unique access to all car brands’ and automotive publishers’ websites, we have a full picture of car buyer behaviour online. The leading car brand involved in this study, the automotive publishers and their agencies took a risk to ask for this independent analysis of advertising effectiveness, but the results clearly show consumers engage with digital advertising.”

Photo by Serge Kutuzov on Unsplash

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