Polk Calls Traditional Media 'Nearly Obsolete' Among New Auto Buyers

Describing traditional mass media as "nearly obsolete" among first-time car buyers, a well regarded auto industry researcher Tuesday released findings of a new study showing the Internet now is the dominant medium among new car buyers. The study, by the Polk Center for Automotive Studies, shows that TV has fallen to 8.2 percent, magazines to 4.4 percent, newspapers to 3.6 percent and radio to 1.1 percent of consumers who deem them the "most important informational tool" in their first-time car purchase.

"The Internet's relevance in the 18- to 30-year age group has reached critical mass and is completely reconfiguring how car companies need to reach out to first-time buyers," said Lonnie Miller, managing director at Polk, who said that shift is reflected in more aggressive Internet marketing efforts by both manufacturers and local auto dealers. She predicted other emerging technologies including online podcasts, mobile media, and video-on-demand would further change the way the auto industry markets itself.

"Harnessing mobile media technology will be the automotive industry's most important marketing challenge -- and opportunity -- in the next decade," she said, emphasizing that the so-called Y generation is abandoning traditional forms of advertising, and that it is imperative for automakers to develop deals with emerging media technology developers.

The findings come as more bad news for the traditional media marketplace - especially local TV stations - where automotive advertising is the largest single advertising category, but which has been eroding rapidly.

A total of 366 first-time vehicle buyers (ages 18-30) participated in the study between November 4 and 10, 2005. Complete results of the report are available on http://www.polk.com .

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