Most consumers find automotive ads useful, especially in the early stages of their car shopping journey.¹ From our study on the role of mobile in influencing car shopping behavior, we wanted to know how influential display advertising is to car shoppers across the board. We learned that ads about specific vehicle models and incentives (Figure 1) are most valuable to consumers (59%).¹ In addition, advertisements directly from manufacturers (Figure 2) are equally as valuable (59%).¹ This shows there is value in advertising using online banner ads by dealers. It’s the content that dealers need to focus on.
We suggest content that focuses on the vehicle model—and the purchase incentives that are available for that model—to drive traffic to your brand and lot. If you have inventory you need to move or if you’re having short term sales events at the dealership on Memorial Day, for example, highlighting these events with urgent calls to action can greatly benefit you.
Figure 1. Mobile Influence on Car Shopping. Cars.com, January 2017.
There’s additional value in highlighting manufacturer content along with video content (Figure 2) in your display advertising. Smartphones are optimized by screen size for consumers to engage with video and high resolution content – something we have optimized for a long time. Merchandising vehicle inventory with video on third party sites and on your own site can encourage more engagement amongst car shoppers. Your banner ads should be dynamic and reflect the ever-changing floor plan of your dealership and offer car shoppers different ways of interacting with your brand online.
It’s placement of these banner ads that requires a thought-out strategy. In Figure 2, we see that car shoppers see value in numerous types of online banner ads from different sources. Placement also matters when it comes to audience, as being in front of the right audience plays a large role in success. For example, 79% of Cars.com shoppers are in market to purchase a car in the next 6 months,² and Cars.com influences 60% of all Sales and Service customers. ³ Third party sites allow dealerships to leverage their audience for their advertising. There are many ways for you to optimize each source using different forms of content that allows for the car shopper to engage with your brand, e.g., video ads on YouTube or sales event positions on Cars.com.
Figure 2. Mobile Influence on Car Shopping. Cars.com, January 2017.
Further creating content around the benefits of makes and models like car safety and vehicle specs can encourage engagement of car shoppers during their various research stages as well. ¹
While many of your competitors are buying digital display advertising – along with other industries – that fight for car shopper attention, online display advertising is relevant to the car shopper. It’s the content that you can tailor to grab consumer attention and ultimately drive them to your lot.
 Mobile Influence on Car Shopping. Cars.com, January 2017.
 Consumer Metrics Study. Cars.com, March 2017
 Transparency AI Q1 Case Study. May 2017.