BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi embrace the blogosphere

BMW, Mercedes-Benz and other luxury brands are engaging with internet bloggers in an effort to target younger audiences who favour social media platforms over traditional media such as television and newspapers.
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Bloomberg reports the move follows Volvo inviting 21-year-old Adnan Ebrahim, a blogger who runs a London-based website, for a test drive of one of its vehicles. "If you can demonstrate to Lamborghini or Ferrari that you can drive a million views to a video, they're more than happy to lend you a car," said Ebrahim.

"Traditional media still has quite a large reach and readership, but it's changing pretty quickly."

The pulling power comes from the bloggers' audience who comment and follow on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook - these potential new consumers are who luxury automakers are hoping to reach.

According to the report, BMW proved the potential to succeed with a modern strategy through its web-only BMW 1-series (pictured above) campaign that resulted in 88 million euros ($111 million) in revenue. Director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany Stefan Bratzel said the internet was "a domain of the younger generation, but Generation Y is now reaching an age where it can afford luxury cars".

BMW says the campaign's five videos posted on YouTube accrued a total of 3.1 million views with over 20,000 people leaving contact details for dealers. "These are leads that said 'I want to have this car'," said BMW's head of social media, Florian Resinger. "This was one of the best returns on investment in media and marketing that we've had so far."

While BMW is reportedly set to triple its internet advertising dollars in its home German market to 1.3 million euros ($1.6 million) this year, with Mercedes-Benz and Audi vowing to overtake BMW in sales by the end of the decade, Audi will spend 3.3 million euros ($4.2 million) and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler 3.7 million euros ($4.7 million) according to Nielsen Holdings NV.

For perspective, Nielsen data shows the latter two brands' TV spending totalled 10.3 million euros ($13 million) and 12.3 million euros ($15.5 million) respectively, while BMW only 3.5 million euros ($4.4 million).

While new retail access points continue to be explored, the strong focus on television-watching consumers keeps dominating automotive advertising, exemplified by the recent General Motors Facebook advertising pullout.