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Do Super Bowl Ads Affect Used Car Purchase Interest?

Posted by Ashley Karr on March 2, 2016

OEMs spend many millions of dollars on Super Bowl advertising every year. Last month, Kantar Media estimates, just six automakers spent $97 million on Super Bowl ads. That netted them 11 minutes of commercial time during the game.

Of course, the primary goal of these expensive ads is to drive shopper interest in new vehicles. This year saw ads for a number of redesigned vehicles and two all-new models (the Acura NSX and the Buick Cascada).

But do OEMs’ Super Bowl ads also drive shoppers towards used vehicles? To find out, we looked at email lead data for the vehicles featured in Super Bowl commercials. We pulled this data for the two weeks following the Super Bowl, and compared it to email lead volume for the same vehicles in early January.

Our conclusion: Super Bowl advertising doesn’t appear to map to used-vehicle interest. In the weeks after the big game, only the Jeep brand (which had two 60-second ads of its own), the Hyundai Elantra and the Kia Optima saw an increase in lead volume on CarGurus.mqdefault.jpg

The Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Genesis, Toyota Prius and MINI brand actually posted declines in lead submissions between early January and early February.

Audi’s R8, featured in the brand’s 60-second “Spaceman” spot, saw no change in lead volume.

It may be the case that seeing Super Bowl auto ads incites consumers to buy new, instead of used. Edmunds did an analysis that seems to back this up: This year, the only truly new vehicles advertised (the NSX and the Cascada) led all vehicles in search interest on Edmunds.

But as to whether OEMs’ Super Bowl ad spend tracks to purchase interest in used vehicles, there sadly doesn’t seem to be much correlation. 

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Image courtesy of Hyundai USA


Topics: car buyers, data, research