These Interactive Automotive Marketing Trends Vie for the Attention of Consumers

Automotive marketing for dealerships used to encompass standard advertising opportunities via radio, television and print. The internet changed how advertisements reached consumers, and now digital media rules many automotive marketing plans.

As new social media platforms launched, additional opportunities opened up for businesses for advertisements, engagement and communication with consumers. Interactive automotive marketing trends vie for the attention of consumers, and dealerships might consider integrating them into strategic marketing plans. According to Goodway Group, these are the marketing trends on which buyers might focus:

  • Videos
  • Digital advertising
  • Augmented reality
  • A move to mobile

Video Content and Videos in Advertising

Television commercials are a form of video advertising; while some dealerships still advertise via local television programming, many have pivoted to digital ads. However, videos are an effective means to capture a consumer’s attention when integrated into online ads. According to Think with Google, three out of four consumers admit that they have been influenced by videos online and that these videos impacted their shopping or their buying decision.

How can videos impact the car shopping journey? Data from Think with Google revealed that nearly two out of three individuals would eschew a test drive if 360 degree videos were offered. In other words, this type of video provides buyers with enough information about a car that a test drive would simply be unnecessary.

Test drive videos have surged in popularity, too. Think with Google reports that viewership (aka ‘watch time’) of these types of videos has grown by more than 65 percent during the past two years.

However, the length of videos might matter to consumers. Data from Google shows that while video lengths for brands come in at less than a minute, videos for ‘creators’ reach the 10-minute mark.

Dealerships could consider launching more video content on social media channels like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. With YouTube, videos could be lengthier. However, TikTok and Instagram both favor shorter video styles.

Since test drive videos have become more popular, dealerships could launch different test drive videos showing how new models perform on the road. In addition, dealerships also can create unique videos that highlight their culture or launch a video series to introduce the sales team. Video content on YouTube or other social platforms also could focus on car care or maintenance tips.

Dealerships that haven’t ventured into video content might consider integrating videos into their social media pages or they could use car stock videos from EVOX Images to add video content to their website. These professionally produced videos can provide consumers with narrated content that explains the unique features of cars or that simply shows potential buyers the interior and exterior of the model they are considering. In addition, these videos also could be posted on social media platforms or perhaps used in online ads.

Automotive Marketing Trends

Digital Advertising Reaches Vast Consumer Demographics

Digital advertisements can be targeted to specific consumer demographics and geographic parameters, too. Dealerships also can set a specific budget to create an online ad campaign that is affordable and impactful.

Goodway Group explains that more dealerships spend ad dollars on digital ads. Think with Google reports that more than 90 percent of consumers research their car options online, and this means that the digital space is the ideal realm to reach car shoppers in the research phase of their journey.

According to Statista, in 2021 car dealerships spent on average more than $300K on digital advertising. In fact, the internet was the dominant media for ad dollars for dealerships; on average, car dealerships only spent around $60K on television ads, $48K on radio advertisements, $40K on direct mail and only around $22K for newspaper ads.  

As more consumers focus their attention on social media and the online space, boosting the ad spend on digital advertisements makes sense for dealerships. In addition, these ads can be targeted to reach a specific demographic of buyers and focus on a strategic geographic range, too.

Online advertising also offers unique opportunities to dealerships. Ads can be designed in a carousel format that includes numerous different vehicle models with unique links associated with each model; these links could navigate to a webpage or a form that lets the individual enter more information. Dealerships could invest in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, too. These campaigns let dealerships ‘bid’ on keywords that are associated with their ad; when a user searches for this phrase, they will see the dealership’s ad.

Advertising opportunities are available via social media and streaming services, too. Each of these ad options could have a different price point, but the dealership also could set a specific budget for each campaign.

Integrate Immersive Experiences

Dealerships that want to reach more buyers should provide consumers with the resources necessary to understand different car options. While photo slideshows and video content could be helpful in showing basic details about the interior and exterior of a car model, there are more immersive tools available.

Augmented reality and virtual reality enhance the online user experience. These technologies provide a unique solution for exploring a car without leaving home. How do these technologies work, though?

Virtual reality experiences require a headset. This means that VR isn’t accessible to the majority of consumers. Dealerships could design a unique virtual reality experience in their showroom that provides a headset to consumers, though. Perhaps this experience lets consumers explore a new model before it arrives.

Augmented reality is a technology that is widely accessible; consumers need to have a mobile device with a camera (a smartphone or a tablet). Consumers navigate the experience by using the camera to capture the chosen environment in which they want to explore a product. Once the individual chooses their environment, the augmented reality experience inserts a 3D digital image of the car (or product) they wish to explore.

Augmented reality is used to create try-on or preview experiences; this technology lets users swipe on cosmetics from home (the product appears on their face in the camera), drop furniture in a room to preview it or even place a vehicle in a garage or the driveway to explore it. Car dealerships could design an augmented reality experience that lets the user walk around the car, look inside it or even change the paint color.

Dealerships that are interested in exploring and creating these immersive online resources can use digital assets from EVOX Images to incorporate into their augmented reality or virtual reality experiences. EVOX Images includes a library of car stock images that are compatible with both augmented reality and virtual reality technologies.

Automotive Marketing Trends

A Move to Mobile

Car research might begin online, but dealerships shouldn’t assume consumers are sitting at a desktop computer searching the web. Instead, today’s consumers are armed with mobile devices that can be used to connect to social media sites and the internet.

Consumers can shop from their smartphone or tablet. They can peruse third-party sites to research car models, and they can visit dealership websites to check out the inventory and prices of the cars they want.

A mobile-friendly website is crucial to reaching consumers who are connected to their devices. If a site is slow to load or if it isn’t easy to navigate, consumers will likely move on.

Marketing strategies should include a website that’s compatible with mobile devices. Dealerships can audit their current website to understand its strengths and weaknesses when viewed on a mobile device.

Do Consumers Want to Buy Online?

While a virtual shopping experience was the norm during the pandemic, buying a car now offers options for buyers. Dealerships are back in business and very much open to foot traffic, but some dealerships might continue to offer online shopping experiences for buyers who prefer to shop remotely.

Millennial car buyers might be the demographic most likely to prefer buying a car online. Gen Z, however, likes to buy in-person.

Another Marketing Tactic that Isn’t Going Out of Style

There is one digital marketing tactic that isn’t going out of style anytime soon. Social media engagement is an important part of the online or digital experience. Each generation might have its preferred social media platform, but the interest in social media doesn’t seem to be dissipating anytime soon.

Dealerships might choose a few social media platforms in which to focus their marketing efforts and their time. Facebook is the most popular platform. YouTube is an ideal social media platform for long-form video content, and TikTok favors short videos.

No matter what social media platform dealerships choose for engagement and online interactions, dealerships should try to maintain accounts regularly. This means posting new content and engaging with followers. If someone leaves a comment, post a reply.

Businesses might find that engaging and staying active on social media is a fun way to keep up with customers and reach out to new audiences, too. Dealerships can post videos, polls, pictures and more. Some businesses even host contests on social media platforms or provide customers with a discount or coupon if they follow the dealership on a social media platform.

Automotive Marketing Trends

Digital Dominates

There are many marketing trends that impact car dealerships and how they reach out to customers. However, digital trends dominate marketing. Not only do dealerships spend more on digital ads than via any other medium, but the digital space also offers opportunities for engagement and outreach (thanks to social media). When dealerships are mapping out their marketing strategies, digital tactics and campaigns might dominate.