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Don't Leave the Loyalist in the Dust

Creating a more seamless auto consumer journey

By Published on .

Credit: iStock

Today, marketers have more technology and data than ever before to reach consumers in personal and relevant ways. At the same time, consumers are placing more demands on marketers to deliver advertising experiences that make their purchase journeys easier and more intuitive. A recent survey by Turner Ignite has led to insights on how media companies and marketers can work together to make the consumer journey more rewarding – particularly for brand loyalists, a group that can be taken for granted in the drive for consumer acquisition.

A Seamless Start

After surveying 2,000 U.S. consumers, including 1,200 who recently purchased a car and 700 imminent car purchasers, Turner Ignite's research found that at the outset, the loyalist's car-buying journey is fairly seamless. Two-thirds of loyalists already know which brand they want to buy, reinforced by TV advertising, digital and social content, including posted videos.

Buoyed with clarity around their target brand, loyalists typically skip the early "open" and "start" phases of the journey, where less brand-attuned consumers gain early stage awareness of the range of brands and models. Instead, loyalists fast track to the "explore" phase where research kicks into high gear.

However, as loyalists launch into "explore," they begin to flounder: their confidence plunges to 39% after a high of 59% at the start of the journey and a range of negative emotions develop: skepticism, anger, disinterest and unhappiness.

This sudden backtrack in the "explore" phase is ignited when loyalists come up against several barriers. The first arises when they can't find the information they need to facilitate their decision-making process. The second is when the media platforms that loyalists would normally turn to do not deliver what they need, leading them to employ clunky workarounds to gather the data they seek.

It is precisely at this stage when loyalists are looking for media to act as a partner (51%) or expert (44%) to deliver them relevant information. At this research phase, information needs are more granular, with loyalists looking for specific details around model, features/configuration, financing plans and a dealership most attuned to their needs. This is where media companies can help, by targeting loyalists with the content they seek on the platforms that are organic to their research process.

Delivering more inspiration through better TV targeting

During the research phase, 44% of loyalists look for inspiration around their brand of choice. This can include content around new features, functions and capabilities unique to the brand. Even information around special services and unique financing assistance can serve as inspiration at this stage. However, only 17% of loyalists find content that delivers this level of inspiration. And only 22% of loyalists said they see TV ads that inspire them. If TV campaigns are geared more towards achieving reach, the messaging may be too broad for loyalists, who are already aware of the brand and want more specific information that reinforces their excitement about the car.

As many media companies shift away from pure demographic to behavioral targeting, TV ads can deliver more relevant messaging to specific audiences like loyalists. While developing multiple creative executions for different audiences has historically been prohibitive, new capabilities like addressable advertising enables fine tuning of creative for different audiences. With these tools in hand, media companies can target loyalists with content that aligns with their need for inspiration, while still delivering a broader awareness campaign to other imminent car purchasers.

Consolidate content in digital, a platform organically suited to research

In addition to seeking inspiration, 45% of loyalists in the "explore" phase look for detailed information to gain familiarity with different car models, features and dealerships. Loyalists also want clarity around how the car will align with their personal needs, with 43% citing this as a key aspect of the research process. However, only 20% of loyalists get the content they need to ramp up their familiarity and only 14% access information to better understand how the car fits their specific needs, whether it's fuel efficiency or a spacious interior for a growing family.

Part of what drives this needs gap is the disaggregation of platforms that get lit up during the research phase. To gain familiarity and assess whether a car and its features align with personal needs, loyalists move between digital and print sources including manufacturer websites, emails, printed car brochures and ads in car magazines. These digital and physical channels are largely disconnected and put the onus on consumers to search for relevant facts or information across multiple sites, sources and platforms.

This opens up an opportunity for media companies to guide consumers to the detailed information they want on a more consolidated set of platforms. To drive loyalists to digital, next-generation targeting solutions powered by addressable TV can be a powerful asset for delivering sequential messaging. As these new technologies evolve, campaigns will be able to move people from TV ads that highlight new features or service offerings to digital sources that deliver more detailed information. Media can step in and make exploration more intuitive and seamless.

Media companies as experts and guides

Traditionally, the research phase is viewed as a solitary exercise where consumers roll up their sleeves and do their homework on a product or brand. Too often media companies play a more recessive role at this moment, delivering information to different platforms expecting that consumers will land on what they need in a self-directed way. However, this study highlights that it is precisely during the research phase that loyalists need media to be a guide to help them navigate different sources and land on the information that will help them seamlessly move to the next stage of their journey. Fortunately, media companies have access to a wealth of emerging technology solutions that enable them to do this now. Targeting solutions power media companies to play a more active role partnering with loyal consumers, arming them with the information they need to enter the "Deal" and "Drive" phases of the journey with confidence and reinforced brand affinity.

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Turner, a WarnerMedia company, is a global entertainment, sports and news company that creates premium content and delivers exceptional experiences to fans whenever and wherever they consume content. These efforts are fueled by data-driven insights and industry-leading technology. Turner owns and operates some of the most valuable brands in the world, including Adult Swim, Bleacher Report, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, ELEAGUE, Great Big Story, HLN, iStreamPlanet, TBS, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), TNT, truTV and Turner Sports.
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