Would you buy a car online? More and more shoppers are spending a larger portion of their time cruising mobile sites to assist in upcoming auto purchases. Despite the mobile movement, auto brands have been slow to pick up on the trend.

The average auto brand generates 61% of site traffic on mobile. Yet 85% of auto brand display ad impressions in 2017 were served on desktop, down just 5% from 2016, according to Gartner L2’s recent auto report. Of these desktop ads, video accounts for about 18% of brand impressions, but are more expensive and harder to develop and distribute for dealers. Currently, mobile ads make up just 20% of all ads served by dealerships in 2017, but savvy dealers should switch gears to the medium, which provides more flexibility and shareability than desktop ads.

Purchase strategies for different ad types vary for brands and dealers. While auto brands have become more conservative, dealers demonstrate a willingness to favor efficiency over quality. Original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, and dealers exhibit similar purchase tactics for the distribution of desktop static and video ads. Dealers are slightly more likely to serve these ad types programmatically, but the variance in share of distribution method is within ten percentage points for each ad type. On mobile, however, OEM and dealer 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 about 20% of mobile static ads directly, instead opting for a pay-and-spray 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 must maintain vigilance about ad quality.

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