Road to Automotive Attribution Driven by Nielsen

By Nielsen Data InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Road to Automotive Attribution Driven by Nielsen

Attribution, especially when analyzing purchases such as vehicles which have a longer term decision process, is becoming one of the hot discussion topics in data-driven advertising.  Nielsen has just released the results of an extensive research study that adds to our arsenal of automotive attribution.

Nielsen Auto Segments:  "Decideds" and "Undecideds"

This study divided auto purchasers into two groups: Decided buyers (Decideds) and undecided buyers (Undecideds).  As the name implies, Decideds are fairly clear about what vehicle they want to purchase while Undecideds are still in the decision-making process and are open to messaging.  "We have found that Decideds and Undecideds are very different demographically with different paths to purchase including the length of time in the market and use of media in the buying process," noted Carol Edwards, Media Analytics, Nielsen.  "But what we also found is that consumer purchase triggers vary by individual market.  Such differences can impact how advertisers frame their messages demographically, buy their media and even choose which markets receive which messages."

Differences Between Decideds and Undecideds

Nielsen chose San Diego and L.A. markets in which to test.  These two markets, while geographically close, are surprisingly different when it comes to auto purchasing habits.  In San Diego, Decideds and Undecideds were evenly split 50/50, while in L.A. 60% of auto purchasers were Decideds. This indicates that advertisers who seek to change minds may find more fertile ground in San Diego.


Even within a market, the demographic differences between the two segments were stark.  In L.A., Decideds skewed older (37 to 51) and wealthier, were more gender balanced and from larger families while Undecideds were younger (20 to 36) more female and Hispanic.

In San Diego, it was the Decideds that skewed younger and were from larger households.  "They were also more ethnically diverse with almost 40% of Decideds identified as Hispanic or Asian/Other," noted Edwards.  "And the San Diego Undecideds were more evenly split male/female, married and more upscale."

Attribution of Auto Purchasers

In addition to delineating the differences between purchaser segments, Nielsen also discovered differences in the attribution path to auto purchasing. Advertisers should take note.

Since Decideds are fairly certain and confident in their purchasing decision, they tend to make quicker decisions – often a week or less to purchase the vehicle.  And they tend to buy new vehicles rather than used or pre-owned.  In both markets tested, Undecideds take longer to make a decision, as much as three months, and often visit multiple dealerships in their consideration process.

Media platforms also play a role in channeling certain consumer behaviors.  According to Nielsen, all automotive advertising is effective in driving consumer behavior.  However, it was found that local TV, direct mail, out-of-home and print drives consumers to visit dealerships while radio drives purchasers to an auto manufacturer's website.  But to target most effectively, advertisers need to take into consideration the two auto purchasing segments by market by media.

Nielsen found that Decideds and Undecideds use media differently within a market.  In L.A., for example, Undecideds are more likely to use traditional media such as local TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and direct media when deciding on their purchase or lease, relying less on digital. Decideds, on the other hand, tend to visit local dealer and manufacturer websites for their decision-making process.


The takeaway for advertisers is that a careful assessment of their core consumer by market and by media is vital in order to have the greatest advertising impact.  Edwards concluded, "Curating your message and media by individual market is vital to success because consideration behaviors and shopping patterns vary by market and by consumer segment."

Attribution just made a giant step forward.

Methodology: Los Angeles, San Diego Auto Path to Purchase 2016 Release 2

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