New media is taking larger and larger slices of car company advertisement revenues as on-line networking sites become increasingly popular as a hunting ground for potential customers.

Some 40 per cent of BMW's multi-million pound global advertising spend is now going on increasingly popular sites such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace according to Joerg Reimann, the company's head of marketing innovations.

It is not a case of chasing computer geeks either. "50 per cent of people using YouTube are over 35," said Reimann. "And with 150 million users worldwide, that's an opportunity we do not want to miss."

BMW will still be using traditional marketing media - television, print and radio - but the advertising coffers now have to be spread more widely.

Reimann added: "Over 90 per cent of our customers research their purchase on-line before going into a dealership. They do this research using search engines rather than using our websites.

"We have to become more innovative in the way we market and advertise our products."

BMW is not simply looking at banner advertising, but at such things as interactive and viral campaigns as well as video-on-demand.

Reimann said: "This means there is more complexity in getting the message across. While there are more and more channels through which to communicate, the budget remains the same - it is just more spread out and new channels are appearing all the time."

This also means recruiting different people in the advertising department. "We have to re-evaluate our know-how," added Reimann. "We are doing this in-house and through the various agencies that we use." 

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