WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (Aug. 1, 2006) — Advertising on travel, special interest and finance Web sites can prove more profitable for upper-funnel brand marketing than placing ads on most auto shopping sites, J.D. Power and Associates reported Monday.

According to the company's 2006 Online Media Study — Wave 1, new-vehicle buyers can be effectively captured by following their interests and lifestyles to sites such as WebMD and Home Depot.

"In terms of Internet advertising, once consumers visit an automotive shopping site, they've already narrowed their vehicle consideration set, which means that online advertisers are missing an ideal branding opportunity," explained Steve Witten, executive director of automotive research at J.D. Power.

"By focusing on new-vehicle buyer behavior on the Internet before they begin actively shopping for their next new vehicle, automotive marketers can identify the Web sites with the highest probability of reaching prospective buyers more effectively than ever before," he continued.

Many Internet users are reached by the most popular sites such as Google and Yahoo; however, new-vehicle buyers can be found five times more often at sites such as WebMD and Home Depot, explained J.D. Power executives. Moreover, they explained that new buyers can also be found using such sites as Yahoo Finance and MSN Money six times more often than general Internet users. The new-vehicle purchasers are also four to five times more likely to utilize a travel site such as Expedia.com or Travelocity than general Internet users.

"While new-vehicle buyers are a niche of only 6 percent of adults in any one year, they are a highly desirable group of consumers for advertisers, and they behave very differently than general Internet audiences," Witten pointed out. "This is a significant opportunity for marketers, especially when they can analyze down to the vehicle segments from which these buyers cross-shop.

"Marketing is often the most inefficient part of any business in terms of spending," he added. "By understanding where certain consumers spend their time online rather than relying solely on general Internet visitation numbers, marketers are able to reach key audiences, often at fees that provide more bang for the buck."

Some of the findings of J.D. Power's study include:

— Large pickup buyers have above-average visitation rates to NASCAR.com and many home improvement sites
— Midsize pickup buyers are much more likely than others to visit sports-related sites
— Female prospects for mini vans and large SUVs frequent Disney Online and game sites
— Those interested in sports cars not only visit auto enthusiast sites, but also are frequent visitors to several travel-related Web sites
— Luxury buyers are more than twice as likely as non-luxury buyers to visit Apple's iTunes music store, due in part to high ownership levels of MP3 players in this segment