Drive Appeal with Effective Ad Creatives for Auto Brands

The auto industry is geared up for transformation, and you don’t want your business to be left in the dust.

It’s no secret that the car industry is facing unprecedented changes. More and more customers are taking the digital highway to car buying – going as far as purchasing their new cars from their mobile phones. And while it may feel safer to hit the brakes, it’s time to accelerate your marketing efforts to pull forward in this highly competitive marketplace.

So, buckle up and join us for a thrilling ride to guide you through the twists and turns of effective auto advertising formats. See how you can add mobile ads to your marketing mix and reach modern automotive consumers.

Changing Landscape of the Auto Industry

When it comes to ad spend, the automotive industry dominates. eMarketer predicts that digital ad spending for the automotive industry will grow 11.1%, to $21.22 billion in 2023. To put that in perspective, that prediction means auto ad sales would account for 7.2% of total digital ad spend in the U.S.

These numbers are impressive, but it’s still clear that traditional media and TV advertising reign supreme. The same report from eMarketer shows the millions of dollars major brands pay for TV ads in a single month. 

Traditional media such as commercials, print, and radio have been the foundation for automotive marketing for decades. Commercials, in particular, are a popular choice for showcasing chic new models and features. Many of these TV ads create a cinematic experience hoping to entice consumers to visit their local dealership.

Introducing: The Modern Car Buyer

While TV commercials and traditional media certainly aren’t disappearing, there’s no denying that consumer behavior around car buying has evolved. The experts at IBM recently compiled research and found that 7 out of 10 consumers would rather shop digitally than go to a dealership. Other reports suggest that 76% of buyers are happy to conduct the entire purchase online.

Specifically, more and more consumers are also using their mobile devices to conduct research and shop for cars. Back in 2016, Meta (formerly Facebook) commissioned a study on the mobile-first auto consumer and found that 71% of all respondents use mobile during the purchase process. And 58% of respondents said, in the future, their smartphone would likely be the only device used for vehicle research. Considering all that has happened since then, these numbers are likely far higher today. 

71% of automotive consumers

use mobile during the purchase process

Much of this recent shift is thanks to shifting consumer attitudes and the necessity of online shopping that spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. As PCMag explains, the pandemic caused a boom in car purchasing, as people moved from cities to suburbs and avoided public transportation. At the same time, dealerships were grappling with supply chain shortages and had limited inventory.

This created the perfect combination for online car buying to thrive. Especially since consumers are more comfortable than ever before making large purchases through digital channels – including on mobile. 

Of course, demographics also played a role in this change. The magazine reports that, “The younger the customer, the more likely they were to make their car purchase online.” According to their survey, 77% of respondents ages 18-24 purchased their vehicle online. 

As a tech-native generation continues to come of age and online shopping becomes the new norm, car companies need to be able to reach them where they are: mobile.

The Perks of Non-Traditional Car-Buying

The emergence of online-only auto retailer companies is proof that this trend is here to stay. Carvana, CarMax, and make it easy for consumers to buy a new (or used) car from the comfort of their couch. No trip to a dealership, greasy salesperson, or long wait times necessary!

Most consumers prefer these methods because of the convenience and access to more inventory. They can easily compare different models and price points to find the exact car they want within their budget. Then easily have it delivered to their door or picked up!

Many of these companies also offer mobile apps, making it easy for consumers to browse different models and make purchasing decisions right from their smartphones. It’s no wonder Progressive reports that online car buyers are 20% more likely to report being highly satisfied with their experience than in-person buyers.

On the flip side, this level of convenience benefits car dealers because it streamlines what can be a lengthy process. It also allows them to target consumers throughout the funnel. While someone researching car models is likely at the top of the funnel, those visiting websites like Carvana are closer to making a purchase. This empowers advertisers to tailor auto ads to where consumers are in their purchasing journey.

Make the Move to Mobile Auto Ads

Mobile is the new frontier for auto ads, and there’s no better time than the present to begin making this move.

More and more consumers are relying on their mobile devices for activities outside of communication and entertainment. One of the fastest growing sectors is mobile shopping, or mcommerce. eMarketer predicts that retail mcommerce sales to account for 43.4% of total retail ecommerce sales in 2023, up from 41.8% in 2022. Over the next few years, it wouldn’t be surprising if mobile retail sales outnumber the rest.

Needless to say, consumers are turning to their mobile devices for news, research, and shopping more than ever before. It’s time for auto brands to meet them where they are.

With the right mobile creative solution, auto ads can effortlessly mimic the feel of traditional media and TV ads on a mobile screen. 

Effective Auto Ads in Action

With so many cutting-edge mobile ad formats to choose from, how do you know which are most compelling for your auto ads? Here are some components of effective mobile auto ads.

Augmented Reality

One of the most obvious drawbacks of mobile car shopping is the inability to truly see and experience the vehicle...or so people once thought.

Thanks to augmented reality (AR), advertisers can add virtual elements to the existing world. It creates a unique mixed-reality experience perfect for capturing elements of the traditional car-buying experience. 

This is an ideal type of unit for letting potential car shoppers see how a certain make and model would look in their driveway – and experience it with a 360 view – all from their phone.

Bespoke Video Auto Ads

As we’ve talked about before, more and more people are consuming media online – specifically on mobile devices. Consumers continue to engage with video ads on their mobile phones and devices, so much so that 87% of video marketers reported to HubSpot that video delivered them a positive ROI last year. 

Car brands can take the cinematic nature of TV auto ads and create hyper-engaging mobile ads with a full-screen mobile format. Bespoke video ads make it possible for brands to increase brand awareness and engagement by putting their TV commercials in the palm of their customers’ hands.


Bonus Ideas

Here are just a handful of other ways brands can utilize interactive elements in their auto ads:

360 Pannable

Be it the exterior, interior (or both), this creative unit helps online car shoppers experience a 360 degree tour of the vehicle at hand.



Encourages the user to interact with the creative and see what is underneath.


Explore more engaging mobile creatives to inspire your next auto ad.

Interactive Bespoke Video

What differentiates an interactive bespoke video ad from the rest? Check out this award-winning video ad that allows users to choose their advertising experience based on the car features they’re interested in.

This campaign was shortlisted for the Drum Awards. The video ad showcases the mesmerizing experience of driving modes in different terrain/weather conditions by allowing users to select and play multiple videos from a dashboard that looks like the actual car monitor.

Explore more engaging mobile creatives to inspire your next auto ad.


Accelerate Your Auto Ads With MOBKOI

Mobile automotive advertising is the way of the future, especially as online car shopping continues to grow, and increasingly more consumers see the value in the convenience and confidence that this channel provides.

Now is the time for auto brands to accelerate their mobile advertising efforts for 2024. By adding high-quality mobile ads to their media mix, they can bolster their marketing and advertising efforts by reaching prospective customers where they are spending the most time.

Get in touch with the team at MOBKOI today and test drive some of these hyper-engaging ad formats.