Auto Industry in 2018: BrainPower

Brain Power Autos

During the process of purchasing a car, from the initial interest phase until the buyer drives out of the dealership, there is an average of 24 customer touchpoints – 19 of which are digital. For auto dealers and performance marketers, the internet is a critical playing field.

In 2017, Outbrain’s native advertising platform served over 34 billion impressions in the automotive category and ran a total of 160,000 campaigns in the U.S. So we’ve called on our BrainPower research team to mine this mass of data and extract the most useful performance marketing insights.

What can we learn about the current state of native advertising in the automotive category, and how can online marketers in the auto vertical use this information to create an even more successful 2018?

Here’s what we found.

Auto Fans Also Like…

Most auto-related content on the Outbrain network was published on web pages related to News, Auto and Sports topics. However, the auto content with the best CTRs was viewed in pages related to Autos (obviously), Electronics, and Technology & Internet.

Insight #1: Car enthusiasts are highly engaged with subjects revolving around innovation and gadgetry. In addition to publishing auto content on auto-related pages, performance marketers should target their campaigns on web pages in electronic, internet and technology categories.


Referring categories to Autos

The Rundown on Run Time

Although most auto vertical campaigns on Outbrain in 2017 ran for less than 3 months, the campaigns that ran for over 6 months performed best. Campaigns 6 months or longer provided 78% of clicks, and also had the lowest CPC – 36% lower than campaigns that ran for under three months.

Insight #2: Patience pays off. Performance marketers can optimize their CPC by running longer campaigns, preferably for 6 months or more.

Countdown to Engagement

In 2017, the average time spent by readers of auto content featured in Outbrain campaigns was 2.66 minutes. This is 1.5X longer than time spent reading auto content on social and 3.6X longer than on search campaigns.

Insight #3: People spend more time with auto-related content when it is delivered via native campaigns, rather than social or search. The development of rich, engaging auto content for native advertising campaigns is a recommended strategy for performance marketers.

Mobile vs. Desktop

Among Outbrain’s auto vertical campaigns last year, overall CTR and CPC was highly competitive compared to industry standards, for mobile, desktop and tablet. However, the vast majority of conversions – nearly 60% – occurred on mobile, followed by just 27% on desktop.

Insight #4: Consumers read and engage with auto-related content on their mobile phones far more than desktop. When creating content, focus on optimizing the discovery experience for mobile.

Creative Approach to Keywords

Most keywords in Outbrain campaigns focused on car brand names (ie. Ford, Cadillac) or vehicle-related words (ie. Crossover, sedans). However, our analysis showed that keyword demand was more strongly focused on adjectives associated with cars, such as “value”, “powerful”, and “saving”.

Insight #5: People interested in cars are searching for content that contains descriptive and emotion-laden keywords. Performance marketers can incorporate car-related adjectives in their keyword campaigns, rather than just brand names, to improve CTR.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief dive into Outbrain’s auto content data. With the help of our BrainPower insights and a few strategic adjustments, you can quickly optimize your online campaigns, achieve your KPIs, and – dare we say it? – drive your native advertising to even greater success.

Want to take some of these insights forward in your auto campaigns? Contact us and let’s discuss how to get your performance marketing engine running!


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