ResearchJul 7th, 2022

The Rise in Consumer Streaming Services: New Vehicle Shopping Trends Align


The theme of this series of articles is one of disruption within and affecting the automotive business. This article is intended to explore the intersection between evolving new vehicle shopping behavior, changes in video consumption, and new challenges local dealerships face as they move into and through the next stage of pandemic recovery.

While dealerships have been enjoying the tailwinds of a ‘sellers’ market for the last 18 months largely due to pent up demand of the covid pandemic, recent political and economic trends and corresponding consumer sentiment threaten to soften demand across many sectors including automotive retail. 

As dealerships look to increase their marketing to customers, how has the landscape changed post-pandemic? 

With new car inventories remaining scarce and customers becoming increasingly comfortable transacting more of the shopping process on-line, there is a decreasing propensity for a customer to choose a particular store based solely on factors like location and inventory. Without the traditional drivers customers will choose their dealership using other criteria. While this could be as simple as name recognition or your stores’ location, factors such as trust, competency, ease of transaction and connection to the community become increasingly relevant. Most importantly, your point of difference needs to be communicated early in the shopping process, as opposed to when a customer arrives on your doorstep. 

Nothing has the power to tell this message more strongly than video and simultaneous to the changes that have taken place in the automotive space, there have been equally dynamic changes occurring in the ways that dealers can deliver video.

This brings us to our second disruption. Video consumption patterns and technologies changed dramatically during the pandemic. Beyond YouTube, facebook, or video on your website, streaming video (or OTT) is replacing the traditional engine of branding and driving demand once commanded by broadcast advertising and (before that) newspaper and print media.  

The pandemic rapidly accelerated the growth of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and a host of others.. A couple of quick stats;

  • Nearly 30% of US consumers cut the cord in 2021. 
  • Nearly all Americans aged 25-34 access TV content through the internet;
  • 78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day.
  • As of 2022, an average person is predicted to spend 100 minutes per day watching online services.
  • 72% of customers said they would rather learn about a product or service by way of video
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in the text (Insivia)

Streaming video advertising offers many unique advantages over traditional television and alternative video delivery methods.

Unlike traditional television, streamed ads are not able to be easily skipped thru or scrolled past, with a view thru rate approaching 99%. This means they offer a level of engagement not seen since the days before the channel changer was invented. Contrast this to a short form product like you tube where 95% of people click skip the moment they can. Or facebook where users scroll through the content quickly.

Streaming advertising allows you to not only target your ads to precise demographics and geography, but to exactly target your desired customers choosing from thousands of data points related to customer behavior. 

To put it simply, you target the customer, not the channel.

You can play service messages to consumers that already own your type of vehicle, or target in -market shoppers for your brand, a competing brand, or other criteria related to where the car shopper is in the decision funnel and the recent actions they have displayed on-line.

New developments not only make it possible to target viewers to the household IP address but also to the actual device ID where they are viewing the content. This means you can target mom and dad in the living room, while skipping the kids in their bedrooms. There are new ways to track the effectiveness of the content and the subsequent actions that viewers take. For example you can track how many customers visited your website within five days of being exposed to an ad impression, and what actions or conversions occurred at that visit. 

Streaming advertising (sometimes referred to by ad sellers as OTT which stands for content delivered ’On Top of (traditional) Television’ services) is sold in a variety of ways, by a multitude of vendors. Within the ‘streaming’ subset; ads can be delivered on Connected TVs (the big screen on your wall), or via tablets, laptops, desktop and cell phones. The segments can be further divided by such criteria as ‘full episode programs’ (traditional TV shows), short form clips, pre-roll, mid-roll and more. I recommend working with someone who has access to the full inventory of products and can impartially recommend the best solution for your needs and market. As an example, the products we offer work from 6,000+ data points and we test and modify campaigns regularly to produce the right balance of completed views and website clicks. 

Conclusion: the pandemic has brought many changes in our lives and the way that customers are choosing to do business with their local dealership. The growth of streaming video by consumers coupled with the advance targeting, delivery tools, more precise tracking and attribution provides a powerful new tool for dealerships to reach and engage this new breed of customers.

Ed Steenman is the owner of Steenman Associates, which provides traditional and digital media services to automotive dealerships and dealer groups nationally.

An internationally recognized writer and presenter, Ed specializes in media planning-buying and a Video OTT and has more than thirty years of experience providing traditional and digital media services to the automotive industry.

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