Automotive TV Spending Down 8.8% In November

Automakers' estimated TV spending was down 8.8% in November compared to a year ago, while impressions fell 29.4%, per

Spending in November 2021 was $342.2 million, compared to $375.1 million in November 2020. Impressions for the month registered at 25.9 billion compared to 36.7 billion in November 2020. 

While automakers’ national TV ad spend may be down year-over-year, there’s a deeper story around how some brands just spent more in late 2020 to make up for a lack of live sports earlier in the year, says Stuart Schwartzapfel, SVP, Media Partnerships at iSpot.

“Additionally, some of 2021’s biggest-spending auto brands on a national level are also buying more TV ad impressions in specific local markets as a result of both supply chain issues and vehicle inventory concerns to close the year,” Schwartzapfel tells Marketing Daily.



The top five brands by spending for the month were Ford ($39.6 million), Toyota ($31.4 million), Ram Trucks ($26.4 million), Honda ($25.1 million) and Nissan ($24.1 million).

The top five brands by TV ad impressions in November were Ford (2.5 billion), Nissan (2.3 billion), Hyundai (2.2 billion), Lexus (1.8 billion) and Chevrolet (1.6 billion).

The most-seen automaker ads in November 2021 were Honda, "The Origin of Determination" (839.7 million TV ad impressions); Ram Trucks, "The Nice List" (828.7 million); Jeep, "The Best Things" (749.0 million); Nissan, "From Dealer to Driveway" (721.7 million) and Lincoln, "Unexpected (686.1 million)."

Over 78% of Ford’s November national TV ad spend was related to football -- NFL games, college football and FOX NFL Sunday, among other related programs, per iSpot. Toyota’s emphasis was even more football-focused, with nearly 90% of the month’s TV ad spend dedicated to NFL and college football games. 

The biggest spend increases among top 15 brands by spend, Nov. 2021 vs. Nov. 2020, were Honda, up 74.5%, followed closely by GMC (+68.6%), Ram Trucks (+45.7%), Mercedes-Benz (+20.6%) and Kia (+13.2%).

Honda increased its investment in national ads during both NFL and college football games, and also Spanish-language programming year-over-year, per iSpot. The same goes for GMC, which more than doubled its national TV ad spend during NFL games compared to last November, while also appearing during NBA games this year (wasn’t an option last year given the pandemic-altered schedule that started the new season in December).

The top programs for automakers by TV ad impressions share of voice in November were the NFL (15.7%), college football (11.0%), SportsCenter (1.4%), NBA (1.2%) and NBC’s “Today” (1.2%).

As is usually the case, automakers put ads where they’d find the most eyeballs: NFL games. Automakers also led the way among all NFL advertisers in November 2021, with 8% of impressions during games during the month, per iSpot.

Autos were the second-most-seen industry by impressions share-of-voice during college football games, NBA games and SportsCenter (all trailing quick serve brands).

The top networks for automaker TV ad impressions in November 2021 were Fox (13.6%), NBC (9.2%), CBS (8.8%), ESPN (7.4%) and ABC (6.2%).

The emphasis on sports means that the big four broadcast networks and ESPN end up as the largest sources of impressions for auto brands. That said, automakers also expanded beyond just sports on these networks. On Fox, 1.2% of auto impressions were delivered during “The Masked Singer.”

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