From screens to showrooms: What kind of ads interest prospective British car buyers?
June 9th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

From screens to showrooms: What kind of ads interest prospective British car buyers?

Data from YouGov Profiles reveals that one in five Britons (20%) intend to purchase a new, certified pre-owned, and/or used car within the next 12 months. With such a significant share of consumers in the market for a vehicle, it's imperative for marketers to understand the preferred channels of advertising that can effectively capture the attention of these prospective car buyers.

Additionally, this analysis explores whether different ad formats hold varying degrees of interest for those intending to purchase new vehicles compared to those eyeing pre-owned options. By understanding the most compelling advertising strategies, automakers and marketers can better cater to the preferences of British car buyers, accelerating their path to successful conversions.

Online advertising channels, such as apps, social networks, websites, and on-demand TV services, are the most attention-grabbing channels according to both segments of prospective car buyers. However, those intending to buy used cars are significantly more likely to take notice of such ads than those planning to buy a new car (44% vs. 36%).

While TV adverts are tied for the first spot amongst Britons intending to purchase a new car in the next year (36%), they are the second most interesting type of advertisement for Britons in the market for a certified pre-owned or used car (38%).

A quarter of prospective new car buyers say they are likely to pay attention to ads in printed newspapers (25%), on the radio (24%) and at the cinema (24%). Britons planning to purchase a used car are slightly less likely to notice ads in these formats.

Podcast advertisements seem to be the least effective in capturing the attention of prospective new car buyers (17%).

Similarly, ads in printed magazines seem to be least noticeable amongst prospective used car buyers, with only 11% of them indicating that they are likely to pay attention to such promotions.

Evidently, online advertising has the greatest impact on Britons planning to buy a car over the next year. But among these online channels, towards which avenues should marketers target their marketing spends?

Advertising on social networks emerges as the clear winner amongst both groups – 40% of Britons who intend to buy a new car and 42% of those who intend to purchase a used car say that such ads are most likely to catch their attention.

Roughly a third of prospective new car buyers find advertisements on websites and on-demand TV streaming services to be attention-grabbing (35% and 31% respectively) compared to just one in four prospective used car buyers (27% and 25% respectively).

On the other hand, Britons looking to purchase used cars in the next year are far more likely than new car buyers to notice online video promotions (32% vs. 26%) and mobile app ads (21% vs. 17%).

For marketers targeting this cohort, it may be useful to gain insight into the social networks they are active on and the devices they use to access these platforms, especially given the effectiveness of social network advertising in capturing their attention.

Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the most popular social networks amongst Britons intending to purchase cars within the next 12 months (66%, 47% and 45% respectively).

Interestingly, more than two out of three respondents aged 35-54 and 55 and above indicate that they are members of Facebook (71% for both).

While the proportion of our 18-34-year-old respondents who are members of Snapchat (39%) significantly exceeds the national average (22%), this social network finds very few takers amongst those aged 55 and above (4%).

Similarly, less than a tenth of them (8%) reveal that they are members of TikTok, compared to nearly two-fifths of 18-34-year-olds (38%) and a quarter of 35-54-year-olds (26%).

Unsurprisingly, respondents aged above 55 are most likely to not be members of any social networks (19%) compared to less than a tenth of respondents aged 18-34 and 35-54 (3% and 6% respectively).

Tailoring online advertisements for viewing on different devices is a big part of optimal advertising. It might then be helpful for marketers to get further insight into the devices used by our respondents to access their various social media accounts.  

More than three-fifths of Britons considering purchasing new and/or used cars over the next 12 months report using mobile phones (69%) followed by a quarter who use tablets (24%) and laptops (23%).

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data for Great Britain is nationally representative of the online population and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.