ATLANTA — Major sporting events continue to drive web traffic to brand and dealer websites, creating a unique marketing opportunity dealers can plan for and capitalize upon, according to data collected by Autotrader and Dealer.com during the first weekend of the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament, better known as “March Madness.”
“When you see these manufacturers promoting in high-exposure sports and games, they’re creating awareness and intent. Those shoppers then go online,” said Jessica Stafford, vice president of marketing for Cox Automotive Media. “The key for dealers is to be aware when this interest is being generated. That’s why we monitor it.”
In an interview with Auto Dealer Today, Stafford stressed that the “multiscreen” viewing experience — in which car buyers use a laptop or mobile device while watching games on TV, is common to March Madness. During commercial breaks and lulls in game action, viewers might go online in response to a commercial or consult a social media feed, such as the #marchmadness conversation on Twitter.
If dealers are not in that conversation, they should be, Stafford said, and they should plan weeks or months in advance to create a visual association between the event and their websites and vehicle description pages (VDPs). If you’re looking for ideas, she suggests starting with the ads and activity generated by factory marketers and local competitors.
Acura, Alfa Romeo, Buick and Infiniti each ran ads during the round of games played between Friday, March 17, and Sunday, March 19. Autotrader recorded a search share increase for all four brands. The Acura MDX led the way in total VDP visits, followed by the Infiniti G37, Acura TL and Infiniti Q50.
Alfa Romeo led the way with a 37.5% increase in mobile searches and a 14% increase in desktop searches. The Italian manufacturer also enjoyed a 22% boost in VDP views compared to the averages of the previous two weekends. Dealer.com data indicated that Acura and Alfa Romeo dealers saw appreciable increases in mobile traffic and slight decreases in desktop searches.
The new data suggests car buyers are going online to find vehicle pricing information, learn more about vehicles, search for a specific vehicle in dealer inventories, and locate a dealer.
Stafford noted that the list of major, engagement-driving sports events is relatively short. Awards shows, TV series finales and other entertainment-related events draw a high number of viewers but can’t hold a vehicle-marketing candle to the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, or the Masters golf tournament. When an event like March Madness comes around, she said, dealers must create a plan to capture the rare momentum it reliably generates.
“Get that action, go in and conquest that activity. It’s a big opportunity."