As thousands of consumers pour into Detroit’s North American International Auto Show this week to kick the tires of new models and concept cars, many will go back to their hometowns and ponder their next big purchase. They’ll likely continue their research online—rather than commit to long hours browsing in car lots.
Given the shift to digital, it should come as no surprise, then, that local car dealers are steering their marketing efforts there as well. In fact, an Interactive Advertising Bureau report noted that car buyers were 71 percent more likely to be influenced by digital ads compared to other consumers.
Local dealerships are starting to behave like their deep-pocketed corporate counterparts, according to Dealer.com, an online firm that provides interactive services to 40 percent of dealerships in the U.S., including locations for Ford, General Motors, Jaguar, Volvo and Toyota. Dealer.com gave Adweek an exclusive peek at its automotive marketing data, which show local spending rose at Google, Yahoo and Facebook.
“Search has been part of dealer budgets for a little while, but display is rapidly growing,” explained Dave Winslow, Dealer.com chief digital strategist. “We’re buying across all the ad networks and exchanges. Dealers for luxury brands [such as Jaguar] are a little more savvy about ideas like social media and Pandora Radio ads.”