Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Irish Motor Industry Advertising Trends: Online vs Traditional Media

In our second guest blogger spot, Emma Toner, Publicity Manager with Gowan Distributors, tells us why the Irish Motor Industry in general, and Peugeot in particular, are increasingly favouring online advertising channels over more traditional methods...

During 2007 advertising expenditure amongst the Irish Motor Industry increased by 14.3% to €56million. During the same period, online marketing spends in the industry grew at a huge rate of 144% to €814,000. Whilst the traditional media spends did not suffer a decline during that period, the % growth in press, radio, TV and outdoor media was much smaller in comparison. Forecasts suggest further growth in the online sector is almost certainly guaranteed this year.

The growth in online advertising in Ireland and in the Irish Motor Industry is undoubtedly as a result of many factors and has begun to follow that of the UK, which of course mirrored the growth pattern in the US and the rest of Europe. It is certainly linked to increasing broadband penetration and the subsequent increasing number of users.

With particular relevance today as we enter into economic uncertainty, budgets are being scrutinized the world-over and companies are no longer willing to spend cash on highly costly, mass-media that do not reach targeted audiences or yield measurable results. Most online campaigns are paid for on a click basis, eliminating any wasted media buying, which is good news for the budget-conscious. Where TV has not been an option in the past, due to budget constraints, online offers companies the chance to talk to their target audiences at only a fraction of the cost.

By its very nature, online offers more engagement and interaction on a one-to-one basis, directly with consumers you have identified. The individual choses to click on your advert only because she is interested in your product and as soon as she clicks on your website, you can start to measure the success of the campaign. Indeed, online is the most readily measurable medium available today. Companies can, with very simple software, measure anything from the number of unique users who visit their site, to the duration time per visit, the number of page views and as a result trace their behavior or shopping preferences to build a customer profile. Click through rates and cost of conquest / investment per contact can easily be calculated.

With such measurability, the review process of a given campaign is made so much easier and action taken to rectify slow results can be immediate. Low traffic generation to a website highlights a problem. The solutions are few and may be to change creative, divert media buying or to ensure the loop is being closed when online requests have been made. Online content can be reviewed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis or at any given time.

Whilst the benefits of online advertising are well known and the majority of automotive competitors in Ireland are active online, absolute spend levels remain relatively low at a mere 1.5% of the total spend and the approach has remained traditional with the use of banner advertising. As a result, Irish Motor Distributors who are currently investing in innovative and consistent online display advertising and search engine marketing can achieve maximum cut-through with increased brand awareness with relatively low investment.

Gowan Distributors Limited, Peugeot Importers in Ireland, allocated 3.1% of their annual media budget to online spend in 2007, over twice the average and was the third biggest online spender in the Irish Motor Industry. The company has developed a digital programme since mid-2005, culminating in the appointment of a Digital Agency in 2007, ICAN, to look after all Peugeot online activity in Ireland.

The company’s current strategy is three fold:

1) The company recognises the need for display advertising and sponsorships on high-volume Irish websites to attract those consumers in passive car buying mode. Display advertising is key to generating leads and increasing brand awareness.

2) The company understands the importance of innovative creatives and technology to stay ahead of its competitors and has employed take-overs, duo-formats, geo-targetting and video. Banner adverts are no longer as effective as they once were. Companies need to invest in and try out new formats as they become available.

3) The third and possibly most important element relates to search engine marketing, key to serving those in the active car buying phase. Search engine optimisation is a vital tool in an integrated campaign. Web users may pick up key messages from a press, radio or TV campaign. Key words typed into Google will then bring them straight to a relevant web page where they can learn even more information on a product. Over 49% of Irish web-surfers use Google as their preferred search engine and Gowan Distributors have developed a Google Adwords programme that runs at all times to ensure those interested are directed to the relevant web pages.

With substantial investment and a full online programme, Gowan Distributors now has a growing database of over 7,000 prospects. Online activity has promoted new model launches, special edition models, Peugeot Platinum Used Cars, Aftersales Services and Peugeot’s Sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup 2007 and generated thousands of visits to the Peugeot website. With proven success in online advertising, future spending is estimated to rise to 10% of the total Peugeot media budget by 2010, out-weighing TV and cinema.

Emma Toner is publicity manager with Gowan Distributors, Importers of Peugeot within Ireland. www.Peugeot.ie

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