The UK’s Auto industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with new car sales dropping 30% in 2020 — falling to the lowest level in nearly 30 years. There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel.

As the UK emerges from lockdown, several trends in consumers’ interests present an opportunity for Auto brands to capture some of the estimated £160 billion accumulated in UK savings accounts in 2020.

Consumers’ Attitudes towards Personal Mobility Have Changed

As much of the population slowly shifts back to working from offices, many consumers are experiencing anxiety around long commutes by public transport. According to PwC, over two-thirds of consumers looking for an alternative to public transport are considering buying a car.

Those consumers cite their reasons for this decision as an increased budget for a car, worries around using public transport, and the ability to use a car for domestic travel as an alternative to international holiday Electric Vehicle Popularity is on the Rise

While petrol and diesel-fueled vehicles experienced a downturn in sales with each lockdown in 2020, there was a glimmer of hope during the second national lockdown when interest in electric and hybrid car sales grew.

Readership trends across the Taboola network in the UK tell a similar story. Since January, articles about electric vehicles have generated 25 million page views, and in the past 15 days, traffic to these articles has grown by 23% compared to the previous 15.

A Surge of First-Time Car Buyers may be on the Horizon

A surge in interest in articles about driving tests on the Taboola network reflects the long waiting times experienced by learners looking to get their licence.

In the UK, traffic to articles about driving tests has increased by 424% in the past 45 days versus the previous 45.

There’s a silver lining in this for auto brands. As the backlog of learners clear and licences are granted, the auto industry should see a trickle of new drivers looking to purchase their first car.

Auto brands can capitalise on this opportunity by creating marketing campaigns targeted at first-time car buyers.

Here are some examples of headlines that would be likely to perform well, as they contain popular search terms including “electric car”, “new drivers”, and “driving test”:

New Cars Means a Market for Additional Auto Services

Naturally, revived growth in car sales is good news not only for manufacturers and retailers, but also brands offering complimentary services, such as insurance. In the past 30 days, traffic to articles about car insurance has grown by 12%, as new car buyers look to insure their vehicles, and those with existing cars look for a better deal.

Here are three tips for auto marketers to capture consumers’ attention at this critical moment to take advantage of these opportunities for a resurgence in the UK automotive industry.

1. Make sure your messaging is relevant to the consumer’s experience.

Consumers see thousands of ads every day, and with attention spans falling and banner blindness on the rise, your ad must be relevant.

Stay up to date with consumer trends like those mentioned above, and develop ad creatives targeted with a customer persona in mind – for example, a first-time car buyer who has just passed their driving test.

You can further optimise your campaign for relevancy by using contextual targeting segments to show your ads to consumers already reading about a relevant topic.

For example, a car manufacturer looking to promote an electric vehicle could target a data segment of consumers reading articles about electric cars.

2. Optimise your creative imagery based on current trends.

There are certain tried-and-true rules for what types of creatives work well for ads. For example, videos or GIFs almost always perform better than still images because they are more effective at capturing attention.

However, other creative characteristics, such as whether consumers are more likely to click on a colour or black and white photo, may vary by industry and change over time.

Marketers can use Taboola Trends, a free tool that analyses an average of 75 million clicks across 50 billion impressions on the Taboola network every week, to find out what creative trends are performing well in their market and industry.

Here are some current creative trends for the Auto category in the UK:

To increase click-through rates for your Auto campaigns, consider using images with a male subject taken at a distance; or consider eliminating a human subject altogether.

Finally, while colourful images generally perform better, black and white images are currently achieving a 43% higher click-through rate in the auto category in the UK.

3. Content may be King – but Context is Queen

Your ad creatives are essential for capturing attention and driving engagement, but the context in which your ad appears is just as crucial. Placing your ads on premium publisher sites not only results in higher attention (according to this study by the IAB UK), but also increases trust. A study we ran in 2020 showed that 80% of consumers feel that ads that appear on news sites are more trustworthy than those that appear on social media.

Taboola’s Taboola’s High Impact offering for brands can help your Auto brand capture post-lockdown spend with attention-grabbing placements on top publisher sites in the UK and abroad. Find out more by reaching out to our team.

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