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Social and Mobile Media ‘Most Disruptive Online Wave’ for Ad Spend, Report Says

September 12, 2013

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Social and mobile media marketing is shaking up the online portion of advertising spend in automotive, according to Borrell Associates’ 2013 Automotive Advertising Outlook.

As the report highlights, social media has already served as a billion-dollar spending category for car manufacturers. And most of what is spent on targeted display — jumping from $661 million in 2012 to $976 million in 2013 — will flow to social media. By 2018, $2.7 billion is expected to be directed at targeted display.

“Spending has had some effect, as nearly all of the manufacturers now have more than one million Facebook followers,” the report states. Ford, Audi, Chevrolet and Honda are leading the way for highest number of Facebook followers, with 8.7 million, 6.1 million, 6 million and 5.4 million fans, respectively. Those total are two to four times the total followers claimed by any other automotive brand.

But as Borrell’s advertising outlook also highlights, even the brands adapting to social media find it challenging to respond to Facebook posts by users. “As it was with websites in the early stages of the Internet, response time severely lags the exposition,” the report states.

Chevrolet is the quickest to respond to Facebook posts, among other top carmakers, with an average time of 3.7 hours. On the other end, Volkswagen’s fans are receiving responses 29.5 hours later, on average.

Ford, the leading manufacturer in terms of fans on the site, takes 8.4 hours to respond to posts, while Kia takes 9.2 hours. Honda responds in 11.5 hours, Nissan in 12.3 hours and Hyundai in 13.6 hours.

“Social marketing isn’t confined to the manufacturers. ... Franchised dealers will spend $2.1 billion on targeted display this year, most of it allocated to social media,” the report notes.

Apple Chevrolet in Chicago is mentioned in the study as one dealer finding a solid return on investment. With 5,000 Facebook followers and 1,600 YouTube videos uploaded, the dealer reports nine out of every 10 new or used vehicles retailed can be attributed to some form of digital marketing.

Online video is another fast-rising advertising category among manufacturers, with Borrell estimating that online video will grow from an estimated $1.2 billion to more than $1.5 billion. By 2018, marketing online video will cost manufacturers almost $3 billion.

“Social and mobile media are undoubtedly forming the next wave of transformation for the automotive sales process,” the report states. “They play at the lower end of the buying funnel, and manufacturers and dealers are just now beginning to understand their true value. When they reach full comprehension, the automotive advertising landscape as we’ve known it for several decades will be turned upside-down.”

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