Automakers spending on TV is trending upward based on November figures.
Collectively, the brands spent an estimated $550.9 million according to iSpot.tv -- about a 4.4% increase year over year -- and an 8.2% increase over spend in October 2020.
Ford spent the most ($57.2 million), followed by Toyota ($51.1 million), Nissan ($49.6 million), Chevrolet ($43.4 million) and Hyundai ($42.8 million).
Impressions jumped by over 23% compared to October. The estimated TV ad impressions totaled 36.6 billion, with Chevrolet leasing the pack (4.0 billion) followed by Ford (3.3 billion), Toyota (3.2 billion), Hyundai (2.8 billion) and Nissan (2.6 billion), per iSpot.tv.
COVID-19 game cancellations notwithstanding, football drove a good deal of impressions, with more than 23% of automaker TV ad impressions coming from either NFL or college football games. However, sports made up just 32.1% of impressions on the month, vs. over 39% in November 2019. Reality TV also made up 12.5% of impressions, and movies were 9.7%.
On an impressions basis, the top four shows were all sports: NFL (3.39 billion), college football (1.24 billion), SportsCenter (242 million) and the 2020 Masters Tournament (217 million). "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" was fifth, with over 200 million TV ad impressions.
Eight different ads were seen at least 700 million times, with Chevrolet’s “Middle of Nowhere” 2021 Trailblazer spot leading the way, per iSpot.tv.
Many of the top spots (six of the top 10 by impressions) were holiday-focused as auto brands continue to push sales to move remaining 2020 vehicle inventory. Automakers were also the top brand industry on TV by spend and impressions for both the entire month of November, and the specific time period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.
The overall spend uptick for auto brands came with an increase for 13 of the top 20 brands as well compared to last November. Audi showed the biggest jump there at 100% year over year. Nissan (71%), Chevrolet (67%), Mazda (48%) and Land Rover (42%) also showed major spend increases.
Only two of the top 20 brands saw spend decreases of more than 10%: Honda (down 50%) and Volkswagen (down 34%) compared to November 2019.
Automakers have advertised during football games for a very long time, said Stu Schwartzapfel, senior vice president, media partnerships at iSpot.tv.
“With attention back on the NFL and college football post-election, November ad spend data shows these brands getting back to normal -- even surpassing totals from last year at this time,” Schwartzapfel says. “Add in holiday sales creative pushes that typically hit TV too, and you’re seeing a very strong finish for auto brands in 2020, despite (understandable) mid-year questions.”