Lexus, Kia Score Big From Super Bowl Ads

The online interest in the new Stinger sports coupe was enough to nearly triple Kia’s overall brand traffic.

Lexus LS 500 F Sport and Kia Stinger TV spots exerted the most online driving power among automotive commercials aired during Super Bowl LII.

That’s according to the tracking of consumer interest in specific makes and models on Kelley Blue Book, an automotive website for selling and buying vehicles.

After the airing of the LS ad (“Long Live the King” tied to an upcoming movie “Black Panther”) and the Stinger commercial (“Feel Something Again”), those cars, respectively saw 2,500% and 1,963% lifts in Kelley Blue Book traffic.

Rounding out the top five automotive Super Bowl ads generating the most online jumps in consumer interest were Jeep Wrangler’s “Jeep Jurasic” at 424%, Wrangler’s “Anti-Manifesto” at 198% and Toyota Tundra’s “One Team” at 85%, according to Kelley, a third-party provider of customer leads to dealers.   

Less product-specific and more brand-image spots (such as Hyundai’s “Hope Detector,” Toyota’s “Good Odds” and Ram’s “Built To Serve”) didn’t transition into immediate online shopping.

That’s expected, because product-specific ads carry targeted messages that generate immediate and actionable interest in particular models more than branding ads do.

“It’s not that the brand-image ads failed to drive immediate traffic; they’re not intended to,” says Greta Crowley, vice president-marketing for the Media Solutions Group at Cox Automotive, Kelley’s parent brand.   

Except for its Tundra ad, Toyota used its spots during the NFL championship game to address mobility and promote its upcoming Winter Olympics sponsorship.

The online interest in the new Stinger sports coupe was enough to nearly triple Kia’s overall brand traffic.

It’s not unusual for a new vehicle debuting in the U.S. to enjoy a search spike from a Super Bowl ad.

The new Alfa Romeo Giulia (808%) and Kia Niro (778%) were standouts last year on CarGurus, another online automotive marketplace.

Crowley says she was a bit surprised at the magnitude of the lifts the LS F Sport and Stinger saw after their Super Bowl ads, but historically “luxury vehicles that inspire an emotional, aspirational connection and fresh offerings do well,” she tells WardsAuto. Post-game, “it’s typically hard to sustain such a high level interest.”   

The Lexus ad also benefited from the tie-in with “Black Panther,” which its filmmaker has heavily hyped leading to its Feb. 16 release, she says.

The LS and Stinger ads drove an impressive amount of traffic to other online websites where vehicles are bought and sold. Traffic for the two vehicles was up 1,080% and 1,052%, respectively, on Edmunds.com.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ record five spots during the NBC broadcast paid off in immediate online traffic gains, Crowley says, adding the FCA ads centered on hot vehicle segments, given current shopper interest in trucks and SUVs.

“On some days trucks are the most-searched vehicles on Autotrader,” she says, referring to another Cox website.

Some viewers criticized FCA for its Super Bowl Ram ad featuring a Martin Luther King Jr. speech, saying that’s a distasteful way to sell trucks. But it generated a 91% lift in Ram interest on Edmunds.

“Regardless of where consumers stand on the Ram commercial controversy, the automaker did succeed in grabbing the attention of car shoppers” – at least briefly, says Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director-industry analysis.

Event-ad-related traffic typically involves consumers who are not ready to buy immediately but are considering a new vehicle sometime in the future.

Kelley and sister brand Autotrader historically see site traffic gains for Super Bowl advertisers even while the game is airing. This speaks to the power of exposure an event ad can muster.

It also says something about today’s connected viewer, Crowley says. “They have their mobile phones and devices at hand, so they are more likely to search online with those than with a desktop computer during the game, although I doubt if they are doing that during a nail-biting play.”    

CarGurus says 2017 and 2016 data indicates search traffic during the NFL championship is less in the winning team’s home area. For instance, when the New England Patriots won last year, searches in New England had dropped nearly 60% below average at 10 p.m. ET.

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