For the auto industry, TV advertising has traditionally always been about reach. Manufacturers and dealers use TV, radio, newspapers, and most recently, digital, to catch anyone in the market for a car and share their message.
But the last decade has brought change to the industry from all sides. Demand has evolved as environmental concerns and rising gas prices turned buyers away from gas-guzzling SUVs toward high-tech hybrid and electric cars. The buying audience has changed, too. Millennials — who delayed buying cars, along with having kids and buying houses, because of other financial pressures after the 2008 recession — tend to live in urban areas where cars are less of a necessity and more of a pain. Car-sharing and ride-sharing, plus whispers of a driverless-car future, are extending the already-long sales cycle and making it unsustainable for businesses and manufacturers.
With these challenges comes a new chance to refine how auto manufacturers and dealers market to consumers. The rise of technology and the evolution of TV have introduced more opportunities to better connect with potential buyers in the right place with the right message at the right time. Using data-driven addressable TV to target TV ads at the household level along with wider-reach cable and broadcast campaigns, marketers can take advantage of a new era of auto advertising.
Marketing in the auto industry
First, let’s look at the way that sales are made in this industry. Different tactics are employed to connect with different levels of the consumer consciousness.
The manufacturer markets for broad brand awareness by tying its product to an emotional appeal. If you want to keep your family safe, you’ll buy this brand. If you want to embrace the fun of life, you’ll buy this brand. These messages are traditionally sold on a large-scale, national TV level, hitting every home television agnostically.
But with the growth of non-traditional TV (including VOD and OTT) watched on multiple devices, it’s making it difficult to capture an effective reach or ROI at each tier. As a result, brands and dealerships cut back on their TV ad spend: a recent forecast put auto ad spending growth at 0.8% (down from 1.5% in 2018) across the world. They then overcorrect and spend more on digital, where competition for consumer attention makes it harder and more expensive to impactfully reach the right audience.
The shift is unsustainable: There needs to be a balance between one-to-one targeting and mass brand awareness across TV and digital, as well as on every tier.
Maximizing dollars in a slowing market
By using the full TV ecosystem–broadcast, cable and addressable–as part of omnichannel marketing campaign, auto marketers can make the most of their advertising investments.
The auto industry is a very competitive, dynamic marketplace. After conversion, a customer won’t be in-market for a vehicle for several years. This means marketers need the latest, freshest look at who’s in-market for a car, and they need a clear understanding of ROAS and who converted, which addressable TV advertising can provide.
Addressable TV offers precise, household-level targeting at scale, allowing marketers to reach exact segments of viewers wherever they are watching TV. Manufacturers can reach people who already own models of their cars or people who own competitive vehicles. In practice, one luxury auto manufacturer saw a 37% lift in buy rate by those who were exposed to addressable advertising compared to those who were not, along with a $9.48 incremental ROAS for every TV media dollar spent.
In combination with wide-reaching national manufacturer campaigns and local broadcast campaigns by specific retailers, TV reemerges as a highly competitive and data-driven medium. What’s more, by pairing data-driven television with digital marketing and experiential campaigns, marketers in the auto industry will make more personalized, targeted and smart customer connections that will pay off in the long run.
The auto industry–and its marketing–have evolved. While consumers are becoming harder to reach, advanced TV has found ways to connect with them in more relevant and impactful ways.