How mobile is changing the Australian automotive industry

Six out of 10 shoppers enter the market unsure which car to buy. Google's head of automotive explains how mobile has taken control of the purchase experience and how brands can get on board.

google - head of industry - automative - richard wolstenholme - croppedWe all know consumers are spending more and more time online, especially on mobile. This has transformed the way consumers research and make purchases — even for big-ticket items like cars.

In the past, buying a new car was all about making a great impression in the showroom. Today, the journey starts well before that and much of it happens online and on mobile.

A Google survey of car buyers suggested consumers are moving away from traditional paths to purchase and doing more research online.

What does this mean for auto brands trying to reach today’s consumers? Here are a few points for marketers to consider.

  • Mobile, mobile mobile – people are researching cars online and mobile is changing the way we shop.

  • Online video is the new showroom – the old mantra was bring customers to your dealership, now it’s how to bring your dealership to your customers online.

Mobile magnificence

When it comes to purchasing a car, mobile matters. Increasingly, mobile is the first place consumers look for information. Almost 60% of auto buyers surveyed indicated they used a smartphone during their research process. That number increases to 79% for luxury auto buyers.

During the car-buying journey there are five key intent rich micro-moments – times when shoppers turn to digital to help select the perfect vehicle for their needs.google automotive mobile car ads - micro moments stepsThese moments are reflected in this case study of one consumer’s car-buying process, which showed more than 70% of this car buyer’s research happened on mobile. This included more than 130 Google searches and 14 Youtube videos.

google automotive mobile car ads - stacys car journey

And consumers aren’t just doing their research on the go. About half were using their mobile devices at the dealership to research and compare deals, even while talking to dealers.

Offering a great mobile experience is crucial for both auto-dealerships and brands. Isuzu Australia, for example, redesigned its site, increased its mobile ad investment and saw huge results on mobile conversions.

Online video is the new showroom

As Australians continue to turn to the internet when contemplating car purchases, they’re looking for easy, entertaining ways to gain information quickly. Online video is a go-to resource for consumers. In fact, 69% of people using Youtube while buying a car were influenced by it.

google automotive mobile car ads - 69 per cent use youtube

They are looking at car advertisements and reviews, but also using Youtube to stay up-to-date with brands they love. Brands that create compelling, useful content for Youtube will stay top of mind among consumers and retain their loyalty.

Just as consumers use their mobile devices on-site to confirm car dealers’ verbal claims, they’re also using Youtube videos to validate their purchase decisions.

More than 50% of consumers discovered a new brand through online video and about 80% of consumers took a shopping related action after watching an online video. Brands that create compelling, useful content for Youtube will stay top of mind among consumers and retain their loyalty.

So what do these trends mean for auto brands? Mobile is changing the rules of engagement from whatever angle you look at your relationship with the customer.

google automotive mobile car ads - 1 in 3 shoppers used their mobile phoneThis means that mobile cannot just be a conversation for your development team, or your agency, or your design team… it needs to be a core part of all of our businesses.  Here are three things we think every auto marketer needs to get right to stay in pole position:

  • Think and act mobile first. Australians are spending more and more of their lives on mobile and are looking for brands to meet them there.  To create a great mobile experience, you should think and act mobile first

  • Present your best self on mobile. For both brands and auto-dealers, mobile is becoming the main way many customers will discover your business.  Is this the best experience it can be?  Online video is a great place to start.

  • Re-think mobile measurement. Measurement should not just allow growth, it should actively create growth.  To do that we need to understand what matters, understand what’s working and understand what’s possible.

Focus on these key areas it will be full-speed ahead for your brand!

Richard Wolstenholme is head of industry and automotive at Google Australia


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.