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Auto manufacturers should be paying attention to mobile: Google

Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to shop for a new car, according to new data from Google.

The path to purchase for auto vehicles remains the same, with consumers becoming aware of brands, researching the cars they are interested in and, finally, making a purchase. However, what is changing is the means consumers are using to conduct these activities, with mobile playing an important role, according to a recent blog post from Google.

?13 million people will fall in love with a new car this year,? said Carrie Steele, senior mobile ad specialist at Google, in the blog post. ?Most people are open to buying a car from one of several manufacturers.

?How will you connect with them?,? she said.

?Increasingly, the link occurs on mobile devices.?

Mobile usage
Mobile users who are close to making an auto purchase often use their mobile devices to compare makes, models, reviews and pricing. They also pull up maps to locate the dealer with the best offer.

There are several examples of how consumers are using mobile to shop for automobiles.

For example, during the Super Bowl,data mobile queries on ?Chrysler? increased 102 percent when Chrysler ran its TV commercial during the game.

Additionally,  eBay sells 2,000 cars each week on mobile.

Much of the activity is occurring on dealers? lots, according to Ms. Steele. Between July and October 2010, 40 percent of AutoTrader?s users accessed AutoTrader Mobile on a dealer forecourt to research a car.

In January, the number increased to 45 percent of users.

Google also points to a recent campaign run by Volvo on its AdMob platform which targeted smartphone owners with banners ads and interactive video ads. The campaign was to promote the new S60 car.

Volvo saw a significant lift from the effort including a more than 240 percent increase in brand favorability.

Google research also shows that 33 percent of consumers went to manufacturers? Web sites to shop for autos, with 55 percent comparing features and 44 percent checking out prices.

For auto manufacturers and dealers, all this data points to the importance of having a mobile optimized Web site. This will make it easy for consumers considering a new car to conduct research via mobile.

It is also important to provide the ability to configure a car and schedule test drives in mobile, per Ms. Steele. Using local ad targeting can also help shoppers find the closest dealer.

?Don't just test drive mobile as a ?nice to have? add-on,? Ms. Steele wrote. ?It?s where consumers are, and it requires your attention if you don?t want to be left in the dust.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode, Assoc. Editor, Mobile Marketer