Market Focus: Auto Shoppers in the US

First Published 03-21-16 in Target Marketing


Efficiently reaching auto shoppers at the right moment is critical for automotive marketers and their agency partners. While there are many proven marketing tactics that drive car sales in the US, one approach is being exploited by just a few very shrewd OEM marketers: Data driven direct marketing.

A direct marketing data audience is defined as a list of individuals (and their contact information) who share a specific set of attributes or activities that have been collected and codified into a database that can be re-sold for marketing purposes, with the proper consents from the data subjects to allow for this use. Contact methods include email, direct mail, telephone and SMS.

Automotive Data

The data on these audiences are gathered in many different ways, including specific product buyers, loyalty card holders, book buyers, magazine subscribers, logged in website visitors, charitable donors, consumers conducting online research into a product they're considering purchasing, and consumers taking surveys and exchanging their interests in certain products for various incentives.

When gathered legally and with the proper consents in place, marketers are able to access to these highly responsive lists of consumers for specific marketing campaigns. This method offers marketers one of the most efficient and precise methods of reaching target customers given the many, very granular selection criteria available for targeting purposes. Direct marketing, and in particular email, also has the benefit of being one of the most measurable media channels available, offering very clear response rate tracking and reporting - something marketers increasingly value in today's omnichannel, attribution-focused marketing world.

That's the good news. The challenge, at least in the U.S., is finding which audience sources are the best for a given campaign. This is a nontrivial task, since there are more than 30,000 separate consumer direct marketing audience sources and 20,000 B-to-B audience sources in the U.S.

The chart above is a high level summary of the available audience options for the Auto category, developed by Infocore's Audience Analyst team. The analysts identified eight categories into which auto-related consumer audiences can be classified. Each category contains several, separate audience groups quantified in the bar graphs. The largest sized group is referenced on the far right table ("Maximum Audience Size") and specifies the maximum number of individuals reachable in the largest audience group in a category.

The Categories

  • Active Shoppers are sourced from networks of websites that bring buyers and sellers together as the consumer researches new vehicle options. These are exceptionally motivated, serious shoppers that have expressed an interest in a new vehicle and have requested to be contacted by a local dealership. These consumers may have registered at a website, submitted request for quotes for target vehicles, and opted-in to receive promotions. They are pro-active in searching websites for more information about autos of interest. Importantly, these sources allow marketers to reach consumers based on the make and model of the car they're searching for, and similar vehicles in that competitive set.
  • Intenders/Hand raisers data sources are created from online consumers visiting automotive network sites, and other retail sites. These purchase intenders are in the early stage of researching autos of interest prior to seeking out a dealer. In-market timing is forward looking, self-reported intent to purchase a target vehicle in the upcoming one to 12 month period. Three months, six months, one year. They have opted in to receive promotions and offers to help them in their buying decisions. These sources also capture specifics about the make and model of the vehicle they're searching for.
  • Owners have been sourced by traditional direct mail and online survey data collection and may be interested in purchasing a vehicle in the near future. These consumers have self-reported information regarding their vehicle of interest's make and model, insurance renewal dates, age, gender, income, and other lifestyle factors.
  • Industry Partnership audiences are consumers sourced by partnerships with auto dealerships, warranty companies, national car clubs, state records, auto after-market, and insurance companies.
  • Compiled Sources are comprised of data from a broad range of consumer sources such as magazine subscriptions, verified consumer transactions, responses to email advertisements, travel sites, financial products and services, and other proprietary data sources. Extensive demographic characteristics are typically available.
  • Lease End audiences are sourced from online, self-reported websites and consist of individuals that have stated that their lease is coming to an end, and they are interested in continuing to lease or purchase a new car. This data is available by make, model and year, as well as demographic and lifestyle data for this file as well. Previously, these records were purchased at high cost from a credit bureau and a firm credit offer was required but they are now much more readily available.
  • Modeled Data sources use industry derived models and economic conditions to predict which households are likely to purchase a car within one of 30+ automotive categories within the next 6 months.
  • Auto Enthusiasts are car buffs that want to be informed about vehicle related trends and developments. The records are sourced from automobile magazine subscriptions and attendance at auto shows. These avid hobbyists spend their free time on DIY auto repair projects, researching vintage car history, and attending auctions.


This kind of high quality data is typically priced on a CPM (cost per thousand) basis, which varies from $100 to $400 per thousand, depending upon the volume of records being acquired, the precision of the selection criteria, and the contact media being used - e.g. postal records are less expensive than email records.

And for those of you wondering whether it's legally permissible to send prospecting emails to people who haven't opted in for your messages, fear not. This third party email approach was specifically designed to lawfully reach only consumers who have agreed to receive messages from third parties.

To get the full, free Auto Shoppers Audience report, contact: AutoShopperReport@infocore.com