How digital advertising can ensure you always get the right kind of traffic

When it comes to digital advertising, there are endless opportunities for automotive marketers, but they need to make sure they are getting it right using the insights available to them

Anna Forbes, UK General Manager at The Trade Desk

The UK’s automotive industry is one of the most important, and profitable, sectors in the country. And of the millions of Brits considering their next set of wheels, nine out of ten (88%) begin their purchase journey online. From a digital advertising point of view, that’s a lot of potential.

But with so many millions of potential car buyers browsing the web, the problem can be knowing where to start with targeting the right people in the right place, and at the right time.

We took a look into how consumers engage with digital advertising in the auto sector, by analysing viewability and completion rates - whether an ad is fully viewable or not, and how many people view or watch the whole ad) – to find exactly where and how to reach your best audience. Here are our top tips to help you maximise your marketing budget.

What does an auto audience really look like?

Our research revealed that consumers who engage most frequently with automotive ads are 32 times more likely than the general population to be an IT professional and work for a Fortune 500 company. And in their leisure time, they’re four times more likely to opt for a cruise holiday. 

But digging a bit deeper, they’re also 23 times more likely to browse maternity sites – dispelling the perception of ‘boys and their toys’. And it’s not all about sitting in a car seat – pumping iron in the gym is also a top priority, with auto ad clickers being 24 times more likely to browse fitness sites. This might explain why they’re also 22 times more likely to browse the WWE site…

What does this mean? Essentially, your audience is a lot more varied than you might think. Given their range of interests, buying ad space without data analysis is a sure-fire way to miss your key audience. Using smart techniques like lookalike modelling – finding customers who behave like existing ones – is key to identifying your (often unexpected) audiences.

When am I best to engage with them?

When it comes to audience engagement, timing is crucial – whether it’s the right hour, the day, or the time of the year. When we conducted our research in the automotive sector, we found that the sweet-spot is between noon and 2pm, when completion rates on video ads and viewability are both at their highest. 

As for day of the week, consumers’ thoughts turn to tinkering with their treasured cars as the weekend approaches, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday performing best in terms of engagement. And throughout the year, the cooler climes of Spring and Autumn provide the best opportunity for consumers looking to fix up their car or invest in a new model – as viewability peaks in May and completion rates peak in October. 

The takeaways are clear: if you want to reach your audience at the best possible time, don’t depend on when your gut says is best, but to do some data-driven research to find the real golden hour. To target auto consumers, remember morning and evening shoulder periods, and prioritise spend towards the end of the week. And if this sounds a lot, here’s a tip: 11pm on Thursday is the ultimate engagement window of the week.

How should I be reaching them?

When it comes to devices, car lovers view ads predominantly on PC, but this needn’t limit your approach: creative automotive video campaigns are popular across all platforms. Meanwhile, the weather has a huge effect on how consumers are viewing their ads: connected TV dominates in the winter whilst customers wrap up warm on the sofa, whereas mobile dominates during the summer months while consumers head out and soak up the rays. 

Our best advice? Let the weather be your barometer. Prioritise video, especially during the colder months – but when the mercury starts to climb, make sure to shift focus to mobile devices.

The road ahead

When it comes to digital advertising, there are endless opportunities to engage with the right audience – and ultimately, get more consumers spending their cash. 

But to do that, you need to do a little research to ensure you’re not throwing precious ad spend down the drain. So, rather than a one size fits all approach, stay flexible with your targeting and hunt out the right audience, at the right time, in the right place – you’ll get the most bang for your buck. If in doubt, remember these three top tips, perfect for auto leaders:

  1. Make use of smart data techniques– and don’t be afraid of the unexpected.

  2. Remember to focus on morning and evening periods as well as the day – and prioritise spend towards the end of the week for maximum effect.

  3. When it comes to format, prioritise video – on TV in the colder months and on mobile when the weather starts to heat up.

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