61 mln Americans bought a car in 2004, most of them searched the Internet first

Borrell Associates study reports that most of the estimated 61 mln consumers who bought a new or used car last year began their search on the Internet. The Internet category will grow to nearly $2 bln by 2006, accounting for 6.4% of all dollars spent on auto sales advertising. The overall automotive category grew at a rate of about 2% in 2004, while the Internet portion grew 51.5%, to $1.2 bln.

Automotive dealers made the largest spending changes in 2004. They nearly doubled their spending on Internet products while slowing down their spending on newspapers, broadcast TV and radio. Dealer associations increased online spending 20.2%, making major cuts in auto magazines and radio. Manufacturers boosted online spending 38.8%, cutting back on auto magazines, broadcast TV and newspapers.