By Jim Johnson,Vice President, Account Planning & Lead of Industry Solutions - Automotive, VDX.tv
Cars and television were made for each other. Capturing the roar of an engine and the hugging of sharp corners translates perfectly to the biggest screen in the house, and has helped several brands and models reach iconic status here in the US since television advertising’s humble beginnings in 1941.
Television’s role within the marketing mix remains firmly intact, no matter whether the buy is national, local, linear, addressable, or connected, with over $66 billion spent on television marketing in 2022 across all industries. Connected TV was the fastest-growing portion of that media spend with over $20 billion, while monthly streaming viewership surpassed both broadcast and cable last July for the first time ever.
It's been clear for some time now that the future of television is streaming, from both a viewership and marketing standpoint. But in the meantime, how can marketers leverage all existing television formats to build their brands and sell products?
Consider the “Four Cs”—connection, content, choice, and commerce—as a framework for determining where linear broadcast and cable fit within the broader context of consumer engagement with your brand.
Connection refers to an advertising medium’s ability to connect brands with consumers in meaningful ways. Linear television is a tried-and-true method for reaching a large audience with a one-to-many approach, where building a brand image or maintaining top-of-mind awareness is key.
Connected TV goes a step further, pairing broad reach with a more targeted approach using demographics, location, and in-market shopping behavioral data to focus on shoppers closest to making a purchase.
Consider the fact that in 2022 there were roughly 226 million adults over the age of 18 in the United States. Assuming each buyer bought only one vehicle for a single household, around 14 million people, or 5.38 million households purchased a new vehicle.
By leveraging linear for brand building and CTV to focus only on households showing signs of in-market purchase behavior, this two-pronged approach leverages the impact of television to its full extent.
Content in advertising can be thought of in two ways. First, the content that the advertising is shown alongside, and second, the type of content within the advertising itself.
Linear TV buying has focused heavily on news and sports in recent years (particularly in auto) since those genres are still typically viewed live and can be bought on a national or local level, ensuring reach for auto brands and relevancy for Tier 2 and Tier 3 auto advertisers.
Pairing this linear approach with CTV and digital video is hugely beneficial to in-market car shoppers in that it provides additional buying context. CTV can be bought on a national or local level, but running CTV ads at a household level affords auto brands and dealers the option of running exclusively on contextually relevant content and publishers, with 50% of automotive shoppers saying they’d be more likely to engage with ads seen alongside relevant content.
Digital video units with multiple tabs allows auto advertisers the opportunity to ingest content directly into the units themselves, including third-party expert reviews for new model launches or vehicle refreshes. According to Nielsen, expert third-party content is 83% more effective at lifting product purchase considerations than user reviews, underscoring the role that relevant content plays in helping shoppers make well-informed purchase decisions.
Choice in advertising, especially consumer choice, is not typically associated with linear. From a viewing perspective, if you want to watch certain linear TV content, the value exchange is that you also watch an ad break periodically throughout the content. The same holds true for any ad-supported streaming content on CTV or OTT, unless of course, you pay for a subscription.
One way to meet consumers in the middle is to consider interactivity and engagement via CTV and digital video units. Many CTV ads today contain interactive features, such as QR codes or clickable links, that facilitate deeper engagement.
Digital video units can be built as 100% consumer opt-in, where auto shoppers can choose to engage with ads they deem relevant or skip over them should they not be interested. This allows auto brands and dealers to ensure that any subsequent video views or engagements are completed by qualified and interested consumers, ones who have elected to receive their message rather than being forced to view them to access their desired content.
The fourth C, Commerce, refers to the goal of all marketing: driving business outcomes. These are possible to track on linear via DRTV methods such as phone numbers, text messages, or web links, and have been a staple in television media plans for decades. More advanced tracking on linear can tie ad exposure to eventual purchase, although those methods tend to require custom set-up and can lead to additional costs.
A more turnkey strategy to complement DRTV is to test a hybrid of both CTV and digital video targeted at the household level. The approach on CTV could be to introduce a new model or dealership sales event, so the first exposure to the household would be on the biggest screen in the home, the television, while subsequent exposures could be spread across all the different devices within the same household.
This not only serves to reinforce the original CTV message but builds upon it with additional buyer context around local inventory, offers, and dealer reviews, in addition to direct calls to action to request a quote or schedule a test drive directly from desktop or mobile.
This proactive approach eliminates a step for consumers and allows auto advertisers the option to tailor follow-on messages post-CTV to align with typical steps in the purchase decision process, from awareness on CTV to consideration and conversion via personal devices.
Linear television and digital can and should co-exist within the media mix for auto marketers. Leveraging the inherent strengths of each to help shoppers make well-informed purchase decisions is sure to be the path to success in our rapidly evolving media landscape.
The “Four Cs” are a proactive step auto marketers can take to meet their customers wherever they are in the purchasing process.
As Vice President of Account Planning, Jim Johnson is responsible for leveraging VDX.tv’s consumer research and insights tools to develop holistic marketing strategies aimed at guiding clients toward their desired digital advertising outcomes.