Decreased foot traffic, fewer test-drives, and better-informed customers are just a few ways the internet has transformed the car buying process. Find out how YouTube is driving this change, and why so many auto customers are using the online platform.
The New Digital Auto Customer
It’s no secret that the car buying process is rapidly changing. Going to various dealerships to weigh out car options was once standard practice, but today’s car buyer will visit less than two dealerships before making a purchase. This car buyer will also walk into a dealership after having done over 10 hours of online research—having narrowed down options to a couple makes and models (leaving less wiggle room for the dealer). At the center of this virtual research lies none other than YouTube, the leading video streaming website.
YouTube is Becoming Really Popular for Auto
For the average car shopper, these 10 hours of research are filled with countless online interactions. Of this online activity, auto shoppers rank YouTube as the number one platform for video research—which beats out OEM and dealership websites. 69% of prospective auto buyers using YouTube report that the site has an influence on the car they end up choosing (placing YouTube’s influence above both television and print). YouTube’s presence in the auto world is only expanding, with a 220% year over year increase in auto video watch time from 2015 to 2016. To better understand why auto buyers flock to YouTube, let’s look at a breakdown of what makes the video site popular for auto.
1. Online car reviewers seem less biased
In a recent Deloitte study, buyers rated independent websites as the most influential source of information when buying a car—above OEM and dealership websites. YouTube car reviewers score well in this category. The videos of the most popular reviewers consist of your average car enthusiast, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, test driving competing car models and throwing key stats at you. The ordinary appearance of YouTube car reviewers makes them seem neutral and gives them an air of familiarity—like that friend that knows everything there is to know about cars.
2. Car information made quick and convenient
Make no mistake, although most YouTube reviewers seem like average Joes or Janes, they can talk the talk. And best of all, they get right to the point. Within minutes, someone is talking OEM history, features, and performance. Video editing allows a user to talk about complex parts of the automobile while more run-of-the-mill, easy to find information like the model’s MSRP and fuel economy pop up at the bottom of the frame.
3. Introducing the virtual test-drive
Shoppers can now gauge something that once could only be done through the test-drive: the “feel” of the ride. Shots on a handheld camera lead the viewer into the car, as if entering it. Footage of the reviewer test-driving the car is edited into a seamless sequence at various angles: on-the-dash, outdoor, passenger, etc. Movements and sounds picked up by the camera provide the viewer with first-hand information about the drive of the car: the sound of the engine, the way the suspension feels, interior finish, leg and head room, and acceleration. While not a perfect substitute, YouTube videos provide a great deal of information that give a viewer a decent feel for the car, without having to take a test-drive. This virtual experience may be the reason why now, only 33% of auto buyers test drive a car before making a purchase.
4. Viewers can swap opinions in the comments
Review videos aren’t just home to the opinion of that one guy who elected himself a car expert. YouTube videos include a place where the customer can easily scan the opinions of countless other car enthusiasts alongside those of the OEM and dealerships. The comments section will easily reveal whether the virtual auto community thinks the cars and/or the reviewers are any good. Potential buyers even utilize the comments section as a space for real-time car advice, by posting comments that outline specific dilemmas they have run into during their car buying journey and asking for advice.
Drive the Conversation
YouTube is helping car shoppers narrow down car options before they even leave the house, but that doesn’t mean your dealership is out of the game. With this shift to car research on YouTube comes a new opportunity to get your dealership’s brand and message in front of customers. Adpearance’s Digital Branding allows you to deliver personalized commercials to these viewers, highlighting your dealership throughout their car shopping journey. To learn how your dealership can take advantage of YouTube in this way, get your free Brand Opportunity Report or call us at (971) 352-8088 to speak with one of our Digital Marketing Specialists.