Consumers are bombarded with the most digital car ads in the month before purchasing a vehicle even though many have already narrowed their choices down to one or two models by then, according to a new Facebook-commissioned study by Ipsos MediaCT.
Facebook says the finding shows that automakers need to reach potential buyers in the digital realm, particularly on mobile devices, earlier in the purchase cycle.
Automakers have a lot of ground to work with considering that U.S. Facebook users spent around 40 minutes each day on the social network in the second quarter of 2014.
Considerable time is being burned on photo and video app Instagram, as well, which is steadily rolling out targeting capabilities that brands such as GMC are taking advantage of. People spent around 21 minutes a day on the Facebook-owned app during the third quarter of 2014.
According to the study, 27 percent of respondents said they do most of their vehicle research on mobile devices.
“There’s a huge opportunity to increase brand awareness [and] to increase consideration by going further up into the purchase process,” Michelle Morris, Facebook’s group director of auto and financial services, said in an interview. “When [automakers are] running their excellent branding campaigns on television, an extension of that can also run on Facebook. When dealers are running local advertising campaigns, they could also run an extension of that.”
Brands have less of a chance to influence buyers in that last month because most have settled on a desired brand, vehicle type, size, price, fuel source and other features at that point, according to the study.
Ipsos found that 59 percent of “average car buyers” -- respondents who aren’t asked for advice about cars by others -- have trimmed their vehicle choices down to one or two models by that last month before a purchase.
In the online study, titled “The Road to Purchase in a Mobile-First World,” 1,501 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 who intended to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next year were surveyed. Quotas were set for respondents with certain intended purchase dates (1/3 each for those looking to buy in 0 to less than 3 months; 3 months to less than 6 months; and 6 months to less than 12 months). The survey was conducted in March and April.