Digital advertising — the way forward in Europe?

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Digital advertising — the way forward in Europe?

As we all know, the main concept of a successful tire company — whether it be a manufacturer, wholesaler/distributor or retailer — is to sell as many tires as possible. This is ever more true in Europe where the competition is particularly fierce.

European brands are not only competing against each other, but they also have to deal with imported brands from around the world. So the real trick for aspiring companies is to invest in a high-profile advertising campaign through magazines and online newsletters, etc.

As long as European magazines have been published there has always been the opportunity to advertise products as it remains a vital source of income for publishers. In Europe there is a particularly extensive amount of magazines to choose from, and to my knowledge there are currently at least 17 publications plying for tire advertising business. Also, when you consider that most of these magazines offer companies the opportunity to advertise within their daily/weekly digital newsletters, it would be fair to say that the European tire market is more than adequately covered in terms of advertising opportunities within the trade.

However, when you look at the retail automotive magazine market across Europe, it is interesting to note that all these magazines concentrate on tires in a small, concentrated way. Among the four leading automotive publications are Car, Autocar and Top Gear which are all best sellers in most European countries along with Auto and Motor Und Sport of Germany, and there is no doubt that tires are not high on the agenda of promoted motoring accessories. Therefore, only the major brands bother to take any advertising.

So does advertising in European tire magazines really work and do prospective advertisers use tire ratings as a positive issue in their advertisement designs?

Speaking to several top European manufacturers, I am given the impression that tire ratings are considered as a positive angle in their advertising campaigns. On the other hand, at the other end of the trading scale, some of the smaller producers and indeed wholesaler/distributors are of the opinion that highlighting features and benefits of tires is more productive than giving a general rating.

At the same time it’s worth taking a closer look at what digital advertising has to offer. In the past few years growth in online publications has taken place. This can be in the form of news portals or newsletters. Both offer customers the opportunity to promote their products at prices that can be lower than magazine ads. In Europe, these advertisements usually take the form of online banners with smaller sizes (than magazine ad pages) available, therefore giving advertisers the opportunity to invest in “bite-size” ads on a regular basis.

Increased reach, less cost

We now all live in a technologically advanced business world and there is no doubt that the Internet is increasingly becoming an essential part of daily communication and advertising for many companies. The obvious attraction of digital advertising in the tire world is that it allows companies to reach significantly more people at a fraction of the cost.

When questioned, in general European tire specialists agree that advertising on the Internet is much more ideal when targeting a national or international market. However, there are concerns as well and one specific negative in Europe seems to be the fear that competitors can easily copy almost anything and use it to their own advantage without any legal ramifications.

In fact, there has already been several libel court cases in Europe between tire companies as a direct result of digital advertising.

As a writer who has worked alongside most tire magazines in Europe, I have had an inside track into whether placing an advertisement in either a magazine or a digital version is a good investment and worth the money.

It’s my opinion, and one that I believe is shared by most market players in Europe, that advertising can play an important role in raising a company’s corporate profile within this fast-moving and highly competitive industry if it is handled in a professional way.

Taking everything into perspective, I would say that the tire industry throughout Europe considers product advertising as a major source of attracting future sales, and I predict that within the next five years there will be the start of a “shift in balance” between traditional magazine and digital advertising in favor of the online version.   ■

John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 20 years. In 2004 he launched his own company, Sapphire Media Services, as a business media consultant with clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.

For more of John Stone's articles, see:

A new era for UK tire shows

Wacky wheels are the future

In Europe, there are too many tires and not enough sales

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