Only half as many automotive Super Bowl spots ran as normal, which is disappointing to those in the industry who appreciate the “over-the-top” creative that the platform commands.
But the spots that ran were big on celebrities and emotions.
Cadillac saw a 194% spike in traffic on Cars.com, according to the website, even though the vehicle advertised in the spot, the all-electric Lyriq, won’t go on sale until next year. Parent company General Motors’ effort later focusing on electric vehicles caused a triple-digit surge to its EV models on the car shopping site. Overall, EV searches increased 77%.
Jeep came in third place, with a 93% lift from car-shopping football fans. Overall, auto brands’ Big Game commercials drove a 38% average increase in Cars.com site page views as football fans multitasked during the game and sought the marketplace’s trusted third-party input to aid them on their shopping journey.
Toyota experienced a 13% lift due to its ad featuring Paralympic athlete Jessica Long. That spot was the top-rated auto spot in USA Today’s Ad Meter, where it finished fifth. GM’s “No Way Norway” finished 6th, Jeep finished 12th, while Cadillac finished 20th.
Meanwhile, Marchex conducted qualitative interviews with car buyers, a parallel survey of 1,700 consumers, and analyzed more than 228,000 sales-related phone conversations between consumers and franchised dealers completed in the fourth quarter of 2020 to see where the auto market is heading.
As it turns out, potential U.S. car buyers are highly informed and are closing in quickly on a purchase by the time they make first contact with a dealer. In fact, 75% of shoppers who contact a dealer are ready to buy a car within three weeks — but only if they feel a high level of trust with the dealership, according to the data.
Furthermore, 83% of consumers are researching and qualifying dealers more than before,and 71% report visiting fewer showrooms than before the pandemic.
More than a third (39%) of consumers use a phone to call or text a dealer to make initial contact, making the phone the leading channel for consumer outreach, far outpacing any other form of initial contact, including walk-ins, email, or chat, according to the study, titled “Trust, Transparency and the Transaction.”
The process of buying cars has changed profoundly during the past year, says Matt Muilenburg, senior vice president of automotive at Marchex, a conversational analytics and solutions company.
“Pre-pandemic, dealerships were hesitant to discuss price before the customer came into their showrooms,” Muilenburg says. “In the new normal, the initial call a consumer makes to a dealership is now the make-or-break point of a sale.”
Dealers cannot operate the way they did in the past, he adds.
“Today, many consumers want to understand what they will pay before they visit a dealership, and dealers need to be ready and willing to address that -- upfront," Muilenburg says. “A competitive price is one piece of building a trusting relationship. What you say -- and often what you don’t -- during that initial call will define if you win the sale.”
According to the study, consumers are looking to limit their time inside a dealership because of COVID-19, and they know exactly what they want because they have spent significant time at home researching vehicles and comparing costs before contacting dealers.
“More than ever, this means dealers need to focus on transparency — they need to be trust providers,” Muilenburg added. “From the moment the consumer calls, texts or walks in the door, the dealer must be prepared to answer questions, provide details, and educate the consumer to build that critical layer of trust. The data shows that dealers who differentiate by establishing trust with the consumer earn the right to charge a competitive price and ultimately sell more cars.”