Hey, Big Spender

The auto industry is a big TV ad spender. In 2017, in the U.S., TV advertising accounted for 83% of the auto industry’s total ad spend (up 3.5% from 2016). In fact, the top 10 auto manufacturers spent more than $6 billion on TV advertising in 2017, 9% of all TV ad spend in the U.S. for the year. Yet, auto advertisers still struggle to connect the dots between these ad efforts and actual observed shopping behavior, notes Mike Swader Director, Marketing Solutions.



To better understand how TV advertising drives consumer behavior, comScore compared gross rating point (GRP) volumes to automotive shopper volumes for two major auto brands and analyzed the relationship between TV viewership and shopping behaviors.

The study discovered that there is a positive correlation between TV ad exposure and in-market shopper volume (total demand as measured by the number of unique shoppers) as well as several key takeaways for auto advertisers looking to optimize their campaigns to achieve higher ROI.  Additionally, the research cements TV as a crucial advertising medium for automakers looking to influence and attract customers today and in the future.

In addition to shopper volume, the study also found that increasing GRPs coincided with increased reverse cross-shopping. In the example above, the auto brand that had the short-term increase in GRPs, also had an increase in reverse cross-shopping of its models from rival brands’ consumers for the same period. 

By understanding the correlation between GRPs and shopper volume, auto advertisers can dive deeper into campaign elements to understand the impact on shopper volumes. 

Some key areas from the report to evaluate when planning TV ad campaigns, include:

  • Assessing results at the model level (including whether ads for one model aided another in the same brand family)
  • Refining by the type of ad (such as brand-building versus a model launch versus deals or sales events)
  • Accounting for the seasonality in TV viewing and vehicle shopping
  • Benchmarking against competitors using “Share of Voice”
  • Segmenting analysis by network and genre

The data shows that there is a clear correlation between TV ads and shopping behavior, but understanding how to optimize these advertising efforts is key to driving lift in shopper volumes (and ultimately sales). To help solve auto brands’ attribution challenge, it is instrumental for them to analyze how ad exposure directly impacts consumer shopping behaviors.  But they should not be analyzed in a vacuum, as it is critical to also understand the impact that other market variables such as ad type, incentives, and inventory play into the conversion process.

Conditions within the study

  • Source: TVB Automotive Playbook, 2018 Edition
  • Source: Zenith via Ad Age Marketing Fact Pack 2018
  • This analysis we used GRP+7, which is Gross Rating Points at the time of broadcast through the following seven days of DVR playback (to account for recorded/delayed viewing), and we included all spend (brand + model) across categories.
  • Shoppers are the net across 40+ third-party automotive websites, deduplicated across sites, days, and sessions, and drawing from lower-funnel activities on those sites to best represent “in-market” auto shoppers.





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