- As its competitors rushed to advertise on TV during NFL games in October 2017, Subaru ran highly targeted ads on mobile-friendly publishers like Amazon, Car Gurus and non-sports sites like The Washington Post. The carmaker saw a 17% month-over-month increase in site traffic, with more than 55% arriving via mobile devices, according to a report by Gartner L2 provided to Mobile Marketer.
- The carmaker created an interactive product page for its Crosstrek SUV on Amazon and also served banner ads to customers that browsed for related products. For example, a search for propane stoves would result in a banner ad that highlighted the Crosstrek and outdoor adventures.
- Among its competitors, Subaru notched a higher quality score for mobile display ads than 19 of the 22 auto brands in L2's study.
With so many players in the crowded automotive space attempting to advertise during high ratings NFL games, Subaru chose a different — and mobile-focused — strategy with its display ad campaign. According to L2, the approach worked, with a 7.6x increase in monthly average mobile impressions and 22% jump in mobile traffic share.
During the monthlong campaign, 75% of Subaru's mobile static display impressions went to Amazon. Increasingly, Amazon is becoming a threat to the digital advertising duopoly of Facebook and Google. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky has previously called the company's ad business a multi-billion dollar program, and a study last year showed that 63% of marketers plan to bump up their Amazon ad budget. While advertising on the e-commerce platform is a relatively new space, this Subaru campaign demonstrates that being where customers are shopping can yield significant gains.
Even though more than half of the impressions were purchased programmatically, Subaru still had a high ad quality score. These results would put Subaru in the half of marketers who know where their ads are running, despite worry over programmatic's contribution to brand safety concerns. Such knowledge will become increasingly essential to marketers as 67% of display ads are expected to be placed programmatically by next year.
According to a separate L2 report, mobile accounted for 67% of all brand site traffic in 2017. This means that brands that design campaigns specifically with always-on, mobile-first customers in mind will likely outpace their competitors, just as Subaru did in this display advertising effort.