J.D. Power and Associates and Compete Inc. Report: Facebook Refers Similar Percentages of New-Vehicle Buyers to Automaker Websites as Third-Party Automotive Sites

Google Refers New-Vehicle Buyer Traffic to OEM and Third-Party Sites by a Wider Margin than All Other Search Engines

Sep 29, 2011, 13:00 ET from J.D. Power and Associates

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Social networking site Facebook refers nearly as much new-vehicle buyer traffic to automaker websites as do major independent automotive content providers (for example, Autotrader.com, Cars.com and Edmunds.com), according to the 2011 Website Performance Tools Report,(SM) a collaborative effort between J.D. Power and Associates and Compete Inc. released today.

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Now in its third year, the report finds that 6 percent of new-vehicle buyers who visit an OEM site visited Facebook immediately prior to visiting an automaker (OEM) site. This is commensurate with traffic levels driven by third-party automotive content provider websites such as Edmunds.com (8%) and AOL Autos (4%).

The report also finds that, among those who visit third-party and/or OEM sites, Facebook refers three times as many new-vehicle buyers to OEM or third-party automotive sites as general Internet population traffic (6% vs. 2%, respectively).

"Facebook visits are a regular part of the Web-savvy consumer's life, and we see the proof of this through visitation patterns of new-vehicle buyers," said Arianne Walker, director of marketing and media research at J.D. Power and Associates. "The volume of new-vehicle buyer traffic that Facebook drives to OEM and third-party automotive sites is considerably greater than that of any other non-automotive, non-search site. Manufacturers and third-party sites need to take advantage of Facebook's popularity by continuing to invest in their presence on the site and determine how best to leverage its influence, even if the advertising model is atypical. In addition, automaker investments in Facebook should be consistent with their messages elsewhere."

The study finds that, among new-vehicle buyers who visit an OEM site or a third-party site, nearly one-third visit Google's search engine, www.google.com, prior to going to an OEM or third-party automotive site. The referral volume from Google's search engine is notably higher than referral volumes generated by any other search engine.  All other search engines included in the study refer less than 10 percent of new-vehicle buyer traffic to OEM and third-party sites.

"New-vehicle buyers are continuing to rely on the Internet early in the shopping process, as well as throughout the process," said Walker. "Therefore, it's critical for automotive brands and marketers to use the Web strategically to reach consumers throughout the shopping processnot just to help them make their final vehicle purchase decisions."

The study also finds the following website usage patterns among new-vehicle buyers:

  • New-vehicle buyers visit 3.4 automotive websites, on average, during the six months prior to their purchase.
  • On average, new-vehicle buyers use 3.8 shopping tools on third-party sites and 3.2 shopping tools on OEM sites during the six months prior to purchase.
  • Buyers of premium crossover vehicle models (such as the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class) visit an average of 1.2 automotive sites during the six months prior to purchase, which is particularly low, compared with buyers in other vehicle segments. These buyers use an average of 3.3 shopping tools on OEM sites, and 3.7 shopping tools on third-party automotive sites. 
  • Among new-vehicle buyers, the automotive sites that are most frequently visited last, or just prior to purchase, include Edmunds.com (7%), KBB.com (7%), Fordvehicles.com (3%) and Toyota.com (3%).

The J.D. Power and Associates/Compete 2011 Website Performance Tools results are based on clickstream(1) behavior of new-vehicle buyers who purchased a vehicle between October 1, 2008 and March 31, 2011. 

(1) Clickstream technology involves tracking specific URLs that website users visit while on the Web.  

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global financial information and education company that helps professionals and students succeed in the Knowledge Economy. With leading brands including Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates, the Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees with more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2010 were $6.2 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

About Compete

Compete, a Kantar Media company, helps the world's top brands improve their marketing based on the online behavior of millions of consumers. Leading marketers such as Carlson Hotels Worldwide, Google, Hyundai Motor America, Upromise, and Verizon Wireless rely on Compete's services to create effective online experiences and highly profitable advertising campaigns.  Compete's online behavior database—the largest in the industry—makes the Web as ingrained in marketing as it is in people's lives.

Compete was founded in 2000 and is located in Boston, MA, with offices throughout the U.S. and Europe.  For more information, please visit http://www.compete.com/.

J.D. Power and Associates Media Relations Contacts:
John Tews; Troy, Mich.; (248) 312-4119; media.relations@jdpa.com

Syvetril Perryman; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates