Digital Media and the Impact on Purchase Intent


In automotive marketing there are typically three tiers of advertisers that are responsible for building awareness, influencing consideration and intent, and ultimately driving vehicle sales. Though responsibilities and objectives may seem clean-cut, there tends to be overlap in what each is trying to accomplish.

The Manufacturers, also known as Tier I, have had the responsibility of establishing the brand, improving perception and creating demand. The Regional Dealer Associations (RDAs), known also as Tier II, have focused their marketing efforts on driving shoppers within a region closer to the purchase point and getting them into specific dealerships; often done with retail pricing or incentive messaging. Dealers, also referred to as Tier III, are tasked with representing the brand, creating a positive shopping experience, and ultimately, closing the sale. Because all parties have the objective of growing sales, overlap in trying to accomplish this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Third-Party Automotive Websites provide an opportunity for automotive marketers to communicate a message to a highly targeted audience of consumers who are at various stages of the vehicle shopping process. The brand manufacturers have long been taking advantage of this space, and employing various strategies to drive consideration of their brand(s), convert competitive shoppers and retain loyal ones. Because the manufacturer has such broad coverage of this audience, there is a looming question in the industry of how relevant it is for Tier II and III marketers to maintain a presence on third-party sites and spend a portion of their budgets in this space. And if it is in fact important for them to be there, what is the most cohesive strategy for all three to use their marketing dollars most effectively? The latter is unfortunately still dependent on too many dynamic variables to have just one answer. The question of the relevancy and value of Tier II and III advertising on third-party sites however, has been confirmed by the positive results from this study.

To address these industry concerns, Jumpstart Automotive Media embarked on a study to understand the impact that RDAs and Dealer marketers have had on brand consideration when advertising to a geographically targeted audience of in-market shoppers. The study has been outlined based on the following:

Industry Problem:

Tier II and Tier III are just beginning to scratch the surface in digital media and are unsure as to how effective their marketing efforts have been in the in-market space.

Jumpstart's Solution:

Provide regional and local advertisers market-level analyses of how their campaigns have impacted automotive shopping based on trends among Jumpstart's audience of in-market shoppers.

Note: Analyses were performed across Tier II and Tier III campaigns in which Tier I was also advertising in the in-market space.

Study Objectives:

  1. Determine whether Tier II and III advertising can support Tier I efforts in driving incremental consideration for a brand in a specific market or region.
  2. Demonstrate the relationship between variances in traffic on in-market sites and advertising campaigns that were geographically targeted to Jumpstart's audience.
  3. Prove the value of in-market media for Tier II and Tier III by showing positive shopping behaviors resulting from effective media campaigns.
  4. Demonstrate that local market advertising presence provides additional support to the Tier I advertising messages on third-party sites in effectively driving consumers closer to purchase.

Key Highlights

Share of Shoppers:

Brands were able to grow their share of market by an average of 23% during the campaign and sustained growth by an additional 6% in the month after.

Traffic Growth:

Make traffic on third-party sites grew an average of 12% during the month of an in-market campaign and another 19% in the month following.

Shopping Demand:

Tier III groups recognized average demand growth in a region ranging from 31% to 56% after they began advertising on third-party auto sites.


The following section will demonstrate in-depth results as to how Tier II and Tier III advertisers were able to influence shopping in a specific market or region. Each campaign was measured during a period in which Tier I was also advertising in the in-market space. What's also noteworthy is that the Tier II and III marketers only had geographic-targeting applied to their campaigns (did not target by segment, make or model specific pages), while Tier I purchased more specific targeting.

Brand Consideration Can Be Influenced on a Market Level

In evaluating brand impact in a market or region Jumpstart measured brand shopping and consideration through Unique Users, Pageviews, Brand Share and Leads or Quote Requests. The analysis compared these metrics during and after a campaign versus the period before an RDA or dealer was advertising across Jumpstart sites. Results across all campaigns showed impressive growth in consumers shopping for various vehicle brands during a period in which the regional marketers were supporting the brand with local messaging.

When looking specifically at Unique Users, the campaigns measured drove an average incremental growth of 12% in shoppers that were viewing brand or model pages on Jumpstart sites.

Average Lift in Unique Users During vs. Pre-campaign Periods

To control for overall market growth, Jumpstart weighed the percent growth of brand shoppers against the growth in the market. In the brand example below, a luxury import brand's shopper volume grew by 11% in one month of a regional campaign in Washington D.C. when the market only grew at 5%. Brand Pageviews for the import also grew faster than the market at 14% during the same time period.

Luxury Brand Shoppers Grow Ahead of the Washington DC Market

Moving the Needle by Capturing Market Share

Another way in which the success of a regional marketer can be measured is by viewing the impact of their advertising on the brand's share in that specific market. The variance in their share is then compared to key competitors in the market. In the chart below we find that similar to the results found in growth in shoppers, the average share gained by brands during regional advertising campaigns was an astounding 23%. Success for some brands even achieved nearly 40% growth in that brand's share of market over a period when a local or regional message supported the national brand message.

Variance in OEM Share of Shoppes in DMA During vs. Pre-campaign Period

Honda RDA Doubles Share of Market

In October, 2008 a Honda dealer association began testing in-market digital media in the Southeast. Although the OEM was advertising on brand and model pages, the RDA was aiming to grow Honda's share in the market, and subsequently gain consideration from competitive shoppers such as Toyota, Nissan and Mazda. During the test period none of the other brands had support in the same region on Jumpstart's sites.

Honda realized exemplary results from their test campaign. In just one month they were able to grow their share of market by over 100%. Prior to their advertising campaign (began in the second week of October and ran through the end of November), they were hovering around 5% share of market and falling behind both Toyota and Nissan. In just six weeks of advertising, their share jumped to over 10% and pushed past both competitors to hold the highest share among them. In addition to leaping ahead during their advertising period, Honda was able to sustain their position in the month following their in-market digital test.

Honda Grows Share in Southeast Market with In-market Display Campaign

Dealer Group's Successful Demand Creation

In another example Jumpstart evaluated how a large dealer group was able to influence shopping consideration for multiple makes in a region. The dealer group covered the Northern California region and was advertising retail messages for Toyota, Honda and Nissan beginning in May 2009.

For the analysis, Jumpstart indexed brand shopping demand using traffic and engagement metrics across shoppers in the region. Prior to May all three brands were performing below the market but when the dealer's digital display campaigns began in May each brand started to see growth in shopping demand. By the end of May Honda started to outpace the market demand and soon Toyota and Nissan followed. In just two months of advertising, each of the brands recognized significant growth in share of shoppers in Northern California ranging from 31% - 56% when the market only grew by 8%.

Dealer Group Impacts Brands Shopped on Jumpstart Sites in Northern California

Purchase Intent Strengthened Through Lead Growth

A final metric that was incorporated in this study is the brand leads submitted across Jumpstart's sites. These consist of quote requests that a consumer would submit for a specific vehicle. While many consumers will never submit a quote request online, Jumpstart has found that regionally focused display campaigns have driven larger volumes of leads either during or directly following an in-market campaign.

One of the brands we evaluated was Toyota in the Los Angeles market. The dealer association began its first test of digital display advertising in the market in March 2009. Although Toyota struggled to move ahead of Honda throughout its campaign, there was significant growth in leads from the beginning to end of their campaign of 60% (13% to 20.8%).

The example above demonstrates how Toyota's share of leads submitted on Jumpstart sites grew 52% after the first month of advertising in the Los Angeles market. That growth was sustained through May when they saw a slight drop-off, but then picked back up to jump ahead 42% from May to June, 2009.

Share of Leads Submitted in the Los Angeles Market

Summary and Conclusions

Because regional and local automotive marketers are still trying to determine the most effective way to evaluate and engage with third-party in-market media, working with these publisher partners will be critical in understanding advertising impact. This is not to suggest that marketer-side metrics aren't valuable in analyzing a campaign, but measuring the shopping behaviors on third-party automotive websites and the demand creation that's occurring in the marketplace will add depth to the metrics for success. Measuring these behaviors will also provide a competitive perspective across a broad audience of auto shoppers that client metrics alone aren't able to provide.

This study unquestionably proves that Tier II and Tier III marketers have the ability to significantly influence shopping behavior throughout a region or a specific local market even if Tier I is advertising to a similar audience, albeit in a more finely targeted capacity.


  1. Review regional traffic trends across Jumpstart Automotive Media publisher websites (average Unique Users, Pageviews and Pageviews per User) in 2008 and 2009 to determine seasonal patterns.
  2. Examine multiple brands' traffic trends and market share in specific market or region (average Unique Users, Pageviews and Pageviews per User) across Jumpstart sites for sufficient periods of time prior to and following advertising campaigns to determine variance during advertising flight.
  3. Index brand behaviors to measure shopping demand in a specific market or region and compare growth to the total market.
  4. Compare brand/model traffic in a specific market or region against key competitors' traffic on Jumpstart sites during and after a geo-targeted campaign.
  5. Identify growth in leads that were submitted by shoppers in a specific market or region across Jumpstart sites. Determine brand share against key competitors before, during and after a geo-targeted display campaign.


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