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Ford clicks with online crowd

Big Blue: Ford leads the web hit parade with models such as its Falcon.

Three-way battle for hearts and minds in automotive cyberland

General News logo24 Nov 2009

FORD, Holden and Toyota are locked in a three-way battle for on-line popularity.

Figures collated by DataMotive Business Intelligence reveal Ford Australia is the most clicked-on brand across the CarSales Network of websites, albeit by a narrow margin.

The second most viewed brand is Toyota, which inched ahead of Holden in October.

These figures represent how many people clicked to inquire about new vehicles used vehicles are not included. It is also more focussed on private customers and business user-choosers rather than large fleet buyers.

Mitsubishi’s Love That Car campaign appears to be generating interest as it was the fourth most viewed brand in October, growing its share of hits since mid year.

Interest in Nissan is higher than its VFACTS sales suggest, and it was the fifth most viewed brand in October.

Mazda was a clear fourth until July, when it dropped to seventh before clawing back a spot in October.

It is not clear why fewer people are checking out Mazdas online, as its sales so far this year are holding up better than Ford, Holden and Toyota.

 center imageLeft: Mazda3. Below: Holden Commodore Sportwagon.

The on-line popularity of the brand early this year could be related to excitement surrounding the new Mazda3, which began to slow mid-year.

Hyundai has been one of the sales stars sales in 2009, but it is not so popular online.

The emerging brand is gaining more hits than it did at the start of the year, when it was in 10th place, but its popularity has dipped in the last few months. It now sits in eighth place after rising as high as fifth mid-year.

Honda and Subaru have been big losers, sliding to ninth and tenth places respectively.

These rankings relate to what site visitors click on. DataMotive also records leads - when people take the next step and ask for more information from a dealer.

In this regard, Toyota was in front in October, with a small gap back to Holden in second. Ford is well back in third and Mazda is in fourth place in front of Volkswagen, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Hyundai.

Interestingly, the Ford Falcon is both the most viewed vehicle, by a big margin, and the vehicle that attracts the most leads.

Australia’s best-selling car for 2009, the Holden Commodore is equal second with the Mazda3 when it comes to views. In leads, the Mazda3 was first until June, but is now a firm second in front of the Commodore.

It should be noted that the Falcon figure includes Falcon ute, while the Commodore figure does not include its ute variant.

DataMotive business operations manager David Sprague said the model viewing information indicated what people were interested in, but the model lead data was a closer representation of what private customers and user choosers are more likely to purchase.

“The views tend to be what people really want, what they would like to buy,” he said.

“The leads show what people are doing closer to the actual transaction. They might be purchasing something more practical or what they perceive as a safer option.”

Mr Sprague said the lead trends are usually replicated in private new car sales after a short delay.

“About one in four of the leads are converted into new car sales,” he said.

“Of course some brands, and dealers, are better at converting than others.”

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