Finding Car Buyers At Their Home(sites)

Auto advertisers looking to get more mileage out of their online ads may want to pick up a copy of J.D. Power & Associates’ “Online Media Study—Wave 1,” a survey that offers insights into buyers of specific brands and where on the Web they may be found.

“It’s not unusual for [auto advertisers] to just buy the big portals and auto-specific sites,” said Gene Cameron, executive director of media solutions at the Westlake Village, Calif., company, and former president and CEO of BBDO West. “[This is] an opportunity for online marketers to find more economical sites.”

Among the findings: The 6 percent of adults per year who buy a new car were six times more likely to have used financial sites such as MSN Money and Yahoo! Finance than the average Net user, and they used sites such as WebMD and Home Depot five times more; people who bought midsize pickup trucks indexed higher on sports sites; women who purchased minivans and large SUVs used Disney Online and game sites; buyers were four to five times more likely to visit travel sites; and 40 percent of new car buyers used Expedia and 35 percent used Travelocity, compared to the average (9 and 7 percent, respectively).

Though some results were predictable (pickup buyers love Home Depot; BMW buyers were down on Nascar, up on The Wall Street Journal), others were counterintuitive. Mothers indexed higher than normal on gaming sites such as MSN Games. “And the knee-jerk reaction is that iTunes is for vehicles seeking a younger audience,” said executive research director Steve Witten. “Actually, someone who bought a luxury vehicle is more than twice as likely to have visited iTunes than the compact-car buyer.”

The study also looked at engagement. It found that, while a site such as Mapquest gets high marks for viewership, “when it comes to advertising awareness, it measures low.” When trying to get directions, he explained, people aren’t interested in ads for anything.