The power of digital advertising

Targeted commercial messages within premium automotive publisher sites can increase traffic to a car brand’s website by 67%. That’s the key finding from a new white paper published by Sophus3.

The study, ‘Value Ad: the influence of digital advertising within the car buyer’s journey’, analysed 135 million visits (January to May 2018) to a group of seven UK automotive consumer publishing sites, Autocar, Auto Express, Auto Trader, CAR magazine, CarBuyer, Parkers and What Car?. It measured the impact of six million advertising impressions served to one anonymous top five car brand and tracked a total of 10.5 million visits to its site.

Representing what is likely to be the largest ever study undertaken into the online car buying journey, it revealed the key role these premium automotive publisher sites played throughout the entire process.

The study assessed several factors including the timeframe in which potential car buyers were exposed to advertising and when they visited the brand’s site. It found that 177,000 consumers visited the website within a seven-day window of seeing the advertisement. However, over half (three million) went on to visit the site within 30 days.

42% of all visits to the manufacturer’s website had first visited one of the seven publisher sites, even without being prompted by advertising. However, with the introduction of advertisements, this number increased significantly compared with the control group. 67% of all visitors to the brand had first been exposed to its advertising messages on one of the publisher sites within a 30-day timeframe.

At a time when consumers have more sources of information than ever before, 50% of visitors to car sites leave after seeing a single page and spend an average of just three minutes on a site. However, the study revealed that after exposure to advertising on one of these publisher’s sites, the ‘bounce rate’ and ‘dwell time’ were improved significantly. The number of consumers leaving after viewing just one page fell to 34%, and dwell time increased to just under eight minutes.

Highlighting the huge potential to drive the ‘right kind’ of consumer engagement, the study revealed that exposure to advertising on a premium automotive publisher site resulted in a 237% increase in brochure requests within seven days, compared to ‘brand site only’ visits. Requests for a test drive increased 131%

The study revealed that visitors to the premium publishers’ sites and those exposed to the brand’s advertising were far less likely to ‘wander’ to competitor sites. On average, they were 27% less likely to visit a competitor brand’s website in the following seven-day period – the crucial period when consumers are finalising their consideration short-list or even refining a final purchase choice.