TV advertising remains extremely costly and its impact is hard to measure, especially in comparison to more immediately tangible digital campaign effects.  It should come as no surprise therefore that many auto brands have either reduced, or are contemplating reducing, their TV advertising spend in favour of digital alternatives; such an approach is certainly understandable. It is also misguided.

TV advertising shapes consumer choice

Insights generated through tracking the same group of individuals for several months as they considered and then made their vehicle purchases, reveals for the first time just how important TV advertising actually is in shaping consumer choice. In China, TV gets brands onto more shopping lists than any other medium while in the United States TV advertising plays a central role at every stage of the buying process. In both China and the USA, TV advertising also acts as the hub in a powerful hub and spoke mechanism that sees dollars spent on promotions, press, bill -boards and other media amplified by exposure to TV advertising; dollars spent on TV advertising help dollars spent in other media work harder. 

Digital media is central to the buying process

There is no question that digital media are central to the auto buying process these days; almost nobody buys a vehicle in China or in the USA without undertaking some form of digital search, and brand websites, social media and multiple blogs and forums all play key roles. But, for the time being at least, TV advertising must remain central to communication planning for all automotive brands in these dynamic markets; it’s impact is too important to lose.

Andy Turton is Head of Automotive for the Americas. He is responsible for developing business, expertise and innovative thinking in this key region while also providing insight to key global Automotive clients at Kantar TNS.

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