Radio advertising for auto retail is alive and well.
That’s the message of a new study of auto buyers in Southern California conducted by the Southern California Broadcasters Association (SCBA).
Sothern California is only one automotive market, although it is the largest in the country. But the evidence is fairly strong.
The Automotive Path to Purchase Study is based on a survey of nearly 3,000 vehicle buyers in Southern California. It is based on responses from verified new- and used-vehicle buyers in the Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas and was fielded from Feb. 27 through March 13.
The study found that radio in this market delivers 1.5 million consumers who plan on purchasing a used vehicle in the next 12 months.
And these are the kind of buyers dealers want: people with jobs. Nearly 70 percent of radio listeners are employed, a much larger percentage than those reached by television or newspaper ads.
The study also finds that radio significantly influenced their purchase decisions. For example, automotive ads on the radio help 74 percent of "undecided" buyers in Los Angeles choose what vehicle brand or model to buy, compared with 67 percent of "undecided" buyers who are influenced by television ads.
Radio also has an advantage over TV in that consumers can’t use a device to fast-forward through the ads.
Many dealers today put most of their advertising dollars into online ads. SCBA president Thom Callahan said a better use of their money is combining digital with radio ads that promote the dealers’ websites.
“We’re not asking them to spend a dime more,” Callahan said. “We’re asking them to understand their customers.”
That means moving money from media with a lower return on investment, including TV, print and third-party lead generators.
"We are asking the automotive industry to engage radio in a discussion of a more effective media strategy to reach qualified customers," Callahan said. "Based on this new research and current market conditions, the time for that discussion is now."