As auto shoppers spend more time on mobile platforms, brands should consider adjusting their marketing spend. The average brand in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Auto generates 61% of site traffic on mobile, and just 85% of display ad impressions in 2017 were served on desktop, down from 90% in 2016. Meanwhile, mobile static ads made up about a fifth of all ads served by dealerships in 2017.

Although brands have become more conservative, dealers demonstrate a willingness to favor efficiency over quality, according to Gartner L2’s display advertising report. The study finds that OEMs and dealers exhibit similar purchase tactics for the distribution of their desktop static and video ads; however, on mobile, their strategies diverge. Brands serve about 60% of their mobile static ads directly, similar to the proportion of desktop static ads served directly. Dealers only serve a fifth of mobile static ads directly, instead opting for a spray-and-pray option.


This push toward mobile advertising indicates a response to customer behavior, but this shift in strategy must be done responsibly. Just like on desktop, brands and dealers should maintain vigilance about ad quality. An auto brand’s digital voice isn’t only composed of marketing activities at the OEM level, but also the efforts of auto dealerships and dealership networks. With smaller budgets, dealers are more likely to purchase ads programmatically, which can present brand safety risks. To mitigate these risks, brands should establish guidelines with their dealers to ensure display advertising best practices.

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