Thought Leadership

The Car Buyer's Fragmented Road Trip

Google recently published an excellent blog post, The 5 Auto Shopping Moments Every Brand Must Own, discussing a number of critical micro-moments along the traditional consumer path to purchase. However, in the auto industry, the path to purchase is almost always a complete misnomer for what is more likely a near-random series of touch points along a research and shopping funnel. Consumers each follow their own unique path, and research their purchases in the way that works for them. Our challenge as advertisers is to make sure we’re there during those critical moments of truth, even if they’re fragmented and appear disconnected.

Google identified some of these critical moments in their blog post. With this knowledge in hand, advertisers should now focus on reaching those shoppers while they are in the moment.

Which-Car-is-Best Moments

There is no shortage of ways in which auto shoppers research their purchases, which is evident during the “which-car-is-best moment.” They have many options such as endemic websites (KBB, Edmunds), search, and automotive media, giving them numerous ways to answer this question.

iProspect helps automotive advertisers understand the consumer nuance of “which-car-is-best moments” by developing a strategy to serve the right message, to the right consumer, at the right time. Using third party data partnerships, publisher relationships and automotive vertical expertise, we assemble automotive go-to-market approaches that fit marketing and business objectives.

Is-It-For-Me Moments

Some consumers are shopping for a new car because of a “life event”: the family is growing, moving to a new state, or seeing their daily commute change. In this moment, auto shoppers are looking for concrete information on the specifics of a vehicle (storage capacity, seating, does-this-fit-two-rear-facing-car seats-comfortably). Media that drives them to trusted sources of information, as well as supplies them with what they’re looking for up-front, is critical to meeting their needs.

Can-I-Afford-It Moments

While seemingly simple, winning the “can-I-afford-it moment” is complex given that the consumer might not know what type of vehicle they’re looking for yet. As mentioned earlier, these moments do not necessarily follow a linear path, meaning that the consumer may be evaluating pricing before deciding if they want a small SUV or a mid-size car. In fact, price may be the deciding factor in their decision.

Knowing this, we work with our automotive clients to understand the relationship vehicles have to one another, cross-shopping propensity, and what consumers are looking for when they’re really in the “can-I-afford-it moment.”

Where-Should-I-Buy Moments

The auto shopper has never had more freedom when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. Traditional dealerships, used chains, and even e-commerce style sites such as General Motors’ Shop Click Drive all provide them with substantial options.

This is where advertisers again need to understand the individual shopper. By leveraging data partnerships and platform relationships, we work with our automotive clients to understand how their approach to auto shopping matches the shoppers’ needs, and how to best be there when the consumer needs you. Localized paid search and search engine optimization, heavy mobile coverage, and providing a variety of purchase options that fit the shopper’s lifestyle all play major roles in capturing the consumer in this moment.

Am-I-Getting-A-Deal Moments

Whether the shopper is on-lot and confirming a good price or about to make their final decision from their laptop at home, positioning the advertiser as a trusted source to affirm the deal is critical. This moment is very search-heavy and very mobile heavy. We partner with our clients to build localized strategies to reinforce “am-I-getting-a-deal moment” security.


No two auto consumers are the same, and no two follow the same path to purchase. Winning the above micro-moments, in the context of each consumer’s unique needs at that time, is critical to automotive success. A consumer-centric, media-agnostic, data-first approach helps iProspect’s automotive clients win every time.