During the recession, car sales fell to their lowest annual level in years, and automakers searched desperately for ways to draw buyers back into the showroom.
In terms of advertising, that translated into a greater reliance on the medium manufacturers and dealers have long favored over all others: Television.
A new report from Kantar Media finds that from 2009, at the start of the recession, to 2012, TV’s share of auto ad spending rose by almost 10 percentage points, going from 53.9 percent in 2009 to 63.3 percent in 2012.
At the same time, the percentage of auto budgets dedicated to newspapers, magazines and even new media fell.
“Local media are extremely important for auto,” says Jon Swallen, chief research officer at Kantar Media.
“All dealer spending is local, and manufacturers use local media to tailor lease, APR and rebate offers by market. The diminishment of newspaper and radio audiences has reduced local media options for auto advertisers, driving money to local TV (and web).”
During that same three-year period, newspapers’ share of auto advertising declined by 6.1 percentage points, while magazines were off by 2.9 percentage points.
Online even fell by nearly a point, after years of rising share as auto advertisers, most notably dealers, experimented with newer media.
The report also finds that auto manufacturers and dealers spent an average $1,268 on TV advertising for every car sold last year.
That’s the lowest number since the Great Recession began, reflecting in part the increase in car buying last year.
Car sales were up 14 percent, to 14.5 million. Auto spending was up too, but only by 7 percent.
At the height of the recession, in 2010, car sales declined to under 11 million. Auto advertisers averaged $1,415 on TV advertising for every car they sold that year.
“Over the past seven years, the number of cars sold annually has ranged from a low of 10.4 million to a high of 17 million. That’s a spread of over 60 percent,” notes Swallen.
“During this same period, the ratio of ad spend per car sold has varied by no more than 15 percent. Which demonstrates that auto manufacturers and dealers scale their budgets up or down in lockstep with the sales climate for vehicles. That’s the key point.”
The report does criticize automakers’ tendency to bunch advertising in the same news and sports programming. During the World Series, for example, you’ll see the same ads over and over again for the same cars.
Kantar says that this may be “undercutting the objective of the creative, which is to make them stand out.”
Source: Medialife Magazine, 10/25/13