shows a car on a screen driving into the distance with overlayed text that reads; Vertical Targeting Series - Automotive

Vertical Targeting Series: Standing Out in the Competitive Automotive Market

The automotive vertical is a particularly challenging one for digital marketers. Auto campaigns normally don’t have a conversion goal of making online sales—in fact 62% of US internet users aren’t comfortable making a car purchase online. So, in many cases, auto campaigns have softer conversions—requesting a test drive or selecting custom features—with the goal of building brand awareness and keeping users engaged throughout the long, competitive sales cycle.

So, how do you do this? How do you stand out from the rest, through multiple channels and throughout every stage of the sales cycle?

There is a lot to take into consideration when building out your campaign strategy. Besides choosing an appropriate KPI – online sales are not always applicable for auto – and setting a budget, there are campaign logistics you need to sort out. This includes choosing which channels to run on, the sizes of your ads, your ad copy and more. Our data team has analyzed a number of automotive campaigns, and we’ve put together some tips, tricks and best practices for you.


Of the auto ads analyzed in our platform, we found that 61% were native, 19% were display and 20% were video. This shows that, in order to stand out and be remembered by your target market, you need to utilize all 3 of these channels. With a crowded market, if you stick with just one format, native for example, you might not rise above the noise. Incorporating video and display in your marketing mix will enable you to use a variety of creative assets to really demonstrate your product.


Our team analyzed a number of automotive display ads in our platform. By looking at Spend and CTR by Ad Size, we were able to determine the ideal creative format for the auto industry. 

As you can see, 320×50 and 728×90 have the best CTR vs media cost results. The 320×50 ad size works well for mobile devices, and 728×90 normally results in a viewable placement for desktop, due to its positioning at top of page. When building out your campaign strategy, consider including these ad sizes for best results. 

**Pro tips for display ads: Be compelling with eye catching creative. Be relevant with concise messaging. Be enticing with a strong, visually engaging CTA.**


When it comes to auto video ads, based off the data analyzed, 15 second videos are the sweet spot for the automotive industry. Over 95% of the automotive video ads in our platform were 15 seconds (1% were 25 seconds and 3% were 5 seconds). After further digging into this data, we found that the 15 second videos had a 70% completion rate, which is really great!

When you’re building out your video strategy for your next auto campaign, we suggest considering using 15 second video ads for the best results.

**Pro tips for video ads: Think about your video in terms of mobile devices first, everything else second. The initial frames of the video should be well branded to have impact even if the ad is closed quickly.**


For native ads to stand out and drive results, the content needs to be compelling and relevant. Through their analysis, our data team discovered that native ads that had headlines of 4-6 words performed best. When they dove into a number of automotive native ads, they were able to determine the most common, best-performing types of words for auto headlines: 

Most common headlines were about the car model, its unique features, specifications and any sort of financing available. Be sure to include these types of words in your headline.

However, the headline is only one part of a native ad. You also need to ensure you have an engaging tagline that will stand out. Our team found that the following types of words work best for auto native taglines:


Your tagline should include info about the car model and its specs, have an action word and try to avoid talking about a sale or special offer.

Now that you have what you need for setting up your mixed media auto campaign, you need to make sure your targeting is on point—especially given the long sales cycle of the auto market.

We found that the majority of auto campaigns in StackAdapt were geared toward the upper funnel, followed by middle then lower, with conversion rates growing lower down in the funnel. This aligns with the idea that the majority of upper funnel tactics are creating brand awareness.

When allocating budget to your campaign, keep in mind that the higher in the funnel you are targeting, the more competition you’ll have, and it’s less likely to get a conversion from those awareness campaigns—so it’s important you allocate budget to all stages of the cycle.

There is a lot to keep in mind when creating and executing an automotive campaign. We hope these tips, tricks and best practices will help you to create a stand-out, well-rounded, multimedia campaign that drives great results through every stage.

Reach out to your StackAdapt Representative to get a copy of StackAdapt’s Guide to Vertical Targeting.

In case you missed our Intro to Vertical Targeting post, you can find it here.

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