Media companies have been touting the resurgence of the auto category and a Wall Street analyst has put an estimate on it: Spending was up 20% in 2010. That accounted for 32% of overall ad growth. Total category spending was $14.8 billion.
In 2011 Michael Nathanson of Nomura projects total auto ad spending to be up 6.4% to $15.7 billion, and rise 7% in 2012 to $16.8 billion. Nathanson also says a "bullish" trend continues in national TV and online display advertising, but the 2010 growth rate in auto advertising in local TV might slow this year.
Nathanson wrote in a new report that CBS, News Corp. and Disney are positioned to continue to benefit from the surge. Each has a broadcast network as well as a slew of local stations.
Perhaps because of ESPN, Nathanson wrote that 12.4% of ad spending at Disney comes from the auto category, the most among seven large media companies. That was above Discovery at 10.7%. After Disney and Discovery, he wrote that News Corp.'s exposure to auto ads is 9.8%, followed by CBS at 9%, Scripps at 8.5%, Time Warner 5.8% and Viacom at 3.6%, with its group of younger-skewing networks.
Car sales, of course, helped drive ad spending -- and in 2010, Nathanson writes, there was a notable rebound, but sales were still well below 2007.
Last year, advertisers increased average spending per car sold by 8% (to $1,280). This year, car sales are forecast to grow 13%, but dip to a 7% growth rate in 2012.