LONDON: Car makers should integrate their search and display online ad campaigns to boost customer conversions, data from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has indicated.

A new report from the trade body, performed in partnership with researchers at Nielsen and NM Incite, analysed the online marketing activities of auto firms BMW, Hyundai, Mercedes and Range Rover. Results indicated the companies are achieving conversion rates of between 4% and 11% for visitors to their websites.

For the report, the IAB counted as conversions visitors who subsequently continued their engagement by performing additional brand-related activities, such as configuring a model, downloading a brochure or booking a test drive.

The research highlighted strong integration effects between search and display advertising, which are the two most widely-used forms of online ads. Of the consumers analysed, 40-50% of those exposed to display ads also performed some form of search activity related to the brand.

Display was found to be the most influential type of ad, with a typical journey from initial exposure to ultimate conversion involving two display ad exposures, 0.6 natural search clicks and 0.2 sponsored search clicks.

Buzz generated through social networks was slightly less influential, with each conversion exposed to an average 0.1 "mentions" of the brand on social media sites.

Display ads in particular were found to produce a positive "latent effect" among web users. For one of the brands measured by the research, 34% of consumers that had been exposed to a display ad for the brand and no other form of advertising visited the brand's website within a week.

According to the IAB, this finding suggests that the true impact of online advertising is not covered by traditional click-based metrics.

"The study highlights that the online customer journey is not a simple linear path but in actual fact the various digital touch points consumers are exposed to all have their role to play in encouraging a customer to convert," the IAB report stated.

Sorcha Garduce, senior insights manager at the trade body, added: "This study continues to highlight that brands shouldn't rely on click through metrics as a measurement of campaign success."

Data sourced from IAB UK; additional content by Warc staff