Automaker TV Spending Increases In September

Automakers spent almost $12 million more this September on national television ads compared to a year ago but impressions were down, according to 

The estimated spend in September 2021 was $239.5 million compared to $227.7 million in September 2020. 

However impressions declined to 29.1 billion in September 2021 compared to 30.9 billion in September 2020. 

The most-seen automaker ads in September 2021 were Jeep, Wildly Civilized (1.03 billion); Lincoln, Where Does the Stress Go? (885.9 million); Toyota, Sneak Out (733.9 million); Chevrolet, Make It Your Own (730.7 million) and GMC, Made to Be Used (670.8 million).



The top five brands by spend in September 2021 were Toyota ($29.2 million), Chevrolet ($21.4 million), Hyundai ($19.5 million), Kia ($18.7 million) and Ford ($18.1 million).

Toyota emphasized tentpole events in September, as over 55% of the brand’s national TV ad spend came during NFL games, with 5.5% during the MTV Video Music Awards and 2.9% during college football. For Chevrolet, emphasis was on broadcast networks -- as about 84% of national TV ad spend was utilized on NBC, Fox, ABC and CBS.

September quickly shifted auto brands’ TV ad impressions toward football’s return and an emphasis on weekend afternoons -- the source of 15.8% of industry impressions for the month (second only to primetime). During September NFL games, six different automaker brands had at least 100 million impressions.

Football season is traditionally a peak time for automaker advertising, and that remained the case this fall, says Stuart Schwartzapfel, senior vice presidents, media partnerships at 

“Brands were eager to get in front of the largest live TV audience around to present 2022 vehicle inventory,” Schwartzapfel says.

The top five brands by TV ad impressions for the month were Toyota (2.7 billion), Nissan (2.6 billion), Lexus (2.6 billion), Hyundai (2.2 billion) and Chevrolet (2.1 billion).

The biggest spending increases among the top 10 brands by spend in September 2021 vs. September 2020 were Lincoln Motor Co. (111%), Jeep (65%), Kia (38%), Lexus (28%) and Ram Trucks (24%).

Lincoln’s spending increase was fueled in part by news, with over 25% of spend coming from that show genre -- with over a third of that coming from morning shows. For Jeep, the spend emphasized football, with nearly 34% of September national TV ad spend coming from the NFL or college football.

Top programs for automakers by TV ad impressions by share of voice in September 2021 were NFL (9.5%), college football (8.5%), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1.2%), Major League Baseball (0.9%) and SportsCenter (0.9%).

The top networks for automaker TV ad impressions were NBC (1.88 billion), CBS (1.24 billion), ABC (1.20 billion), FOX (1.17 billion) and ESPN (867 million).

The big four broadcast networks and ESPN combined for about 34% of all automaker TV ad impressions, in part due to football (as well as the return of network primetime schedules). Cable news also played a larger role delivering impressions for auto brands, as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN were all among the top 10 networks for auto impressions.

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