Automaker TV Spending, Impressions Decline In February

Despite some large Super Bowl buys, automakers spent 4.7% less on TV in February compared to a year ago, while TV ad impressions declined 9.1%, per

There was one fewer day in February this year, since last year was a Leap Year. 

Collectively the auto brands spent an estimated $387.5 million, with estimated TV ad impressions reaching 29.6 billion.

Toyota, which had a poignant Super Bowl spot featuring a Paralympic athlete. came out on top both in spending ($39.9 million) and TV ad impressions (2.7 billion).

Rounding out the top five were Jeep ($38.7 million), Ford ($32.1 million), Subaru ($31.9 million) and Hyundai ($22.4 million). Rounding out the the top five brands by TV ad impressions were Chevrolet (2.6 billion), Ford (2.4 billion), Lexus (2.4 billion) and Subaru (2.2 billion).



Despite fewer auto brands advertising during this year’s Super Bowl, the game still made up the largest percentage of industry spend for the month -- 14.0% of the total for autos in February 2021, per iSpot.

“Even with fewer auto advertisers airing Super Bowl spots, these brands were largely still able to keep up the pace by finding audiences wherever they’ve dispersed to,” says Stu Schwartzapfel, senior vice president, media partnerships at i

As streaming continues to grow, automakers are primed both to continue national TV spots while also using the power of addressable to target specific audiences, he adds.

After the Super Bowl, college basketball games made up 6.4% of spend, followed by NBA games (3.6%) and NHL games (1.8%). "Saturday Night Live" (1.5%) was the only non-sports show in the top five. Sports-related programming made up over 17% of all auto brand TV ad impressions during the month.

The top five networks for automaker TV ad impressions in February 2021: CBS (1.12 billion), NBC (980 million), ESPN (855 million), Fox News (746 million) and MSNBC (676 million).

Four auto brand spots were seen at least 600 million times. Chevrolet’s “Last Thing” featuring  the Silverado Trail Boss was the most-seen auto spot for the second consecutive month, with over 678 million TV ad impressions. No. 2 was GMC’s “Ready. Set. Go.” (667 million), followed by two Subaru ads -- “Call of the Road” (666 million) and “Moment of Silence” (613 million).

According to data from iSpot’s Ace Metrix, the Chevrolet spot performed 6.8% better than the norm in terms of audience attention, and 10.7% higher by likeability.

Given the fact that fewer auto brands appeared during the Super Bowl, just 11 of the top 20 increased spend this February compared to last. General Motors spent $13.1 million as an overarching brand after not doing so last February, while Land Rover led the way among returning advertisers with a 129% increase year-over-year. Acura also leapt 114%, Nissan was up 103% and Jeep saw a 55% jump.

Every top 20 brand that increased spend compared to last February did so by (at least) double digits. Of the top 20 brands that decreased spend year over year, six of those declined by less than 20% compared to February 2020, per iSpot.

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