The Power of Digital Persuasion

Say this for J.D. Power: They know the digital space, and few organizations have the credibility to report on the digital trends that impact the likes of Ford, GM, Toyota and others. They boast strong analysts who know brand-level automotive marketing and digital topics, and can communicate their findings in a concise and compelling way.

Take their most recent study, the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Automotive Media and Marketing Report. The organization claims that it “provides a comprehensive strategic perspective on the factors that influence new-vehicle purchases, as well as attitudinal, lifestyle, recreational and media consumption behaviors.”  That pretty much means – I think – that it reports on what most influences car buyers to sign on the line. This year’s study includes digital media habits, from search to display, social and more.  To read the summary for yourself (do so), click here.  The study is based on a nationwide survey of 31,200 principal drivers of purchased or leased new vehicles between November 2012 and October 2013.

From my perspective, it’s a mishmash of obvious findings, such as this little diamond….

Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter (listed in alphabetical order) are among the top five social media sites most often visited by new-vehicle drivers.

…mixed with good insights and interesting indicators. For example, the idea that content apps are fueling consumption habits and that a healthy percentage of people now think nothing of watching a show on a mobile device means that people really are using mobile technology for all things. Olden time media like “newspapers,” “television” shows and “magazines” are now gaining critical mass via mobile devices, because – here it comes – PEOPLE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE DEVICE THEY USE. They care about the content and the convenience of the delivery, just as long as the device presents said content in an acceptable way. It’s proof positive that we should be thinking of digital as a device agnostic playground, if not already.  The study found that a majority of those surveyed (57 percent) used their smartphone to access the Internet.

It’s a shame that this little nugget was sort of washed over in the summary, because it seems more notable to me than the ultimate finding, which was…

Don’t switch your radio/TV/OOH budget to digital. Spend more.

Do this because people are consuming media of all types in a multitude of ways, i.e. not discriminating in their usage patterns for research, purchase or entertainment…marketers should make sure they hit all the important spots. It seems that the trend supports that: eMarketer projects that the automotive industry will spend around $7 billion on digital advertising in 2015.

That’s a pile of cash, and much of it is probably earmarked to fluffy attempts at raising “brand awareness.” Given that, perhaps the hidden lesson from the study is this: Digital is not a niche. It’s as mainstream as Main St., from search to social – and that the real meat and potatoes part of digital is happening, as they say, molo. That’s the tip from the hat of J.D. Power: The most powerful suggestion may be that digital media spending at the local, retail level should expand. That’s where it’s at: local and in person, on the site and on the lot, tethered together that take the transaction from dealership desk to the front seat of a new or used car.  The emerging power of digital marketing is not the power of a brand’s suggestion, but the power of powerful content, targeted and delivered at the right time – to the right device.

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