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Back in the driver’s seat: why car brands need to go mobile-first

Paul Coggins outlines why automotive marketing needs to prioritise mobile, and how it is suited to attention-grabbing, interactive ads which go toward digitising the showroom experience

The importance of the digital space has sky-rocketed thanks to the pandemic. Even though things have opened up again, people’s reliance on and use of online channels has remained strong.

The automotive industry has not been immune to this shift. Indeed, a survey conducted by AutoTrader this year found that the vast majority (72%) of consumers said that they were now open to buying a car online. And this number was up from 61% in 2020.

 Nevertheless, most car marketers are still reliant on static forms of marketing, rather than making the most of digital’s capabilities. This is especially true for mobile where,  despite accounting for 60% of global digital ad spend, much of the advertising that is served up is static and unengaging. 

mobile advertising
Mobile accounts for 60% of global digital ad spend

This is surprising given that we spend most of our digital lives on our phones, and the functionality of mobile lends itself perfectly to automotive advertising. Able to digitally emulate the driver’s seat, mobile can leverage interactivity here to replicate some of the excitement of being behind the wheel. Great examples of this include campaigns by brands like Jaguar Land Rover, Lexus, Renault, BMW, and Ford, which have produced immersive ads that invite users to press ignition buttons and engage throttles.

However, as the mobile ad space expands, it is becoming more and more difficult for brands to be heard above the noise. Right now, mobile-user attention is at a premium, meaning car marketers need to be putting out the best creative output in the right ad environments, at the right time.

Thankfully, from a performance perspective, the space has been transformed by artificial intelligence (AI), allowing the creativity of campaigns to be dramatically boosted. AI is able to analyse years of data to get a granular understanding of where and how customers have historically interacted with them. Along with what formats best attract user attention, this data can then be used to optimise the performance of future campaigns and maximise their engagement potential.

As the mobile ad space expands, it is becoming more and more difficult for brands to be heard above the noise

Car ads that have been optimised with this technology have an average click-through rate (CTR) of 4.5% and an engagement rate of 24%. This far exceeds the benchmarks for search, where the average CTR of car ads is 2.1%— despite intention already being high in a search scenario. These ads also exceed the average CTR for static ads run in Google Display Network (0.4%) and Facebook (0.8%) environments.

AI-optimised ads also help automotive brands free up resources; this in turn helps towards delivering increased ROI for campaigns. Additionally, all the  data used by AI is anonymised, which is critical in today’s data privacy-focused world. 

Automotive brands that recognise the power of mobile, the importance of user attention and the ability of AI to create exciting, optimised campaigns, will be gaining a serious competitive advantage. In particular, ads that have interactive, immersive formats will really put themselves in pole position in this new era for automotive advertising.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Paul Coggins is Chief Executive of Adludio 

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