Study of car buyers highlights the effectiveness of earned content over owned

When it comes to big purchases, online content has an even bigger part to play, and a new study highlights the different ways customers engage with it.

Content sharing platform AddThis focused in particular on the online behavior of car buyers, tracking their interactions with third party content, branded content and social media. AddThis monitored interactions that occurred over the past 60 days across desktops, tablets, and mobile devices on more than 25,000 websites featuring automotive content.

Here are some of the more interesting findings:

For showcasing cars, video is the best option. The study showed that shoppers in the beginning, or consideration phase of the buying process are 55% more likely to enter the next phase, known as in market, after viewing auto-related video content.

Earned content is better than owned. For all the talk surrounding content marketing, ultimately most consumers make their purchasing decisions based on third-party content such as articles, reviews and expert interviews. Customers are 40% more likely to buy a car after consuming a positive piece of third-party content, and only 15% more likely to buy if its branded or owned content.

To further drive that point home, the study found that 45% of shoppers engage with third party content such as reviews and vehicle comparisons; 25% engage with blogs and forums, 15 percent engage via social networks, and 10 percent engage with content that is brand owned and operated.

Brands have the most influence during the research phase for customers. When consumers are researching automobiles, social sharing outweighed private sharing by a ratio of 50:30. As shoppers narrowed their choices and moved into the in-market phase, private sharing of content dominated by a ratio of 80:15. That highlights how limited an auto brand’s ability is to influence the final decision during that stage.

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