Automakers Increase TV Spending Prior To Labor Day

Live TV watchers were blitzed with Labor Day sales ads from auto dealers. But the deluge actually began back in August. 

Facing declining auto sales, dealers geared up for promotions in August.

While digital advertising has become a growing part of auto companies' media plans, linear TV remains their largest spend category, says Kevin Krim, president and CEO of TV analytics platform Entertainment Data Oracle (EDO.)

“Now, automakers are increasingly able to use digital analytics tools to optimize their TV campaigns, including machine learning models applied to huge behavioral data sets and unprecedented real-time performance feedback,” Krim tells Marketing Daily

The alleged decline of linear TV for auto ads has been greatly exaggerated, he says. 



“Our data proves TV is still a critical tool used by automakers to build their brands,” Krim says. “The stakes are very high, with brands increasingly focusing their spend on big events and live sports.”

According to August data, Subaru took the top spot among non-luxury auto brands as it continued to increase the volume of its airings and drove search engagement volume (SEV) through spots focused on the 2019 Ascent, its charitable program, and the company’s eight 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ awards. Toyota came in second with ads to support its National Clearance Sales Event. 

Despite decreasing its airings volume, Chevrolet was still a top performer thanks to a creative unit highlighting its J.D. Power Awards, as well as spots supporting its All-Star Open House Sales Event and the 2019 Silverado. Kia reactivated its national TV campaigns with relatively few airings and the highest mix of prime-time spots. Kia mainly drove SEV through spots for its Summer Clearance Event, as well as for the 2020 Telluride.

The quality of creative idea matters more than ever, says Steve Shannon, EDO advisory board member. 

“Whether it's the new VW ‘Drive Bigger’ campaign, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid launch campaign, or the Chevy ‘Employee Discount for Everyone’ sales event, compelling messages still drive the most interest in a brand,” Shannon tells Marketing Daily. “And there is no better way to measure that consumer interest than the extent to which these ads drive people to pick up their devices and search."

In the luxury segment, BMW made a rare appearance at the top of the rankings. The automaker drove the highest SEV among luxury auto brands through its Summer Sales Event spots, while TV's rankings leader, Lexus, continued to promote its Golden Opportunity Sales Event. Jaguar leaped back into national TV, while Volvo boosted SEV using only two different creative units for its XC60 and XC90.

"NFL and college football will be prime opportunities for automakers through the rest of the year, one of the most important periods for auto sales,” Krim says. “We’ve already seen multiple brands generate strong impact advertising during preseason games."

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