Automakers' National TV Spending Dips 27.4%

The estimated national TV spend by automakers in March declined 27.4% vs. March 2021, with TV ad impressions dipping similarly.

The March 2022 spend registered at $199.0 million, compared to $274 million a year ago, according to  

Ad impressions registered at 25.3 billion in March 2022 compared to 33 billion in March 2021. 

The most-seen automotive ad for the month was Inifniti with "Band Recital" (917 million), followed by Cadillac: "Fortune Favors the Fearless" (781 million), Ram Trucks: "Step Into a New Day" (693 million), Hyundai: "Get In and Get Away - City" (637 million) and Toyota: "More Me" (623 million).



“As audiences are captivated by another entertaining and surprising edition of March Madness, automotive brands have been busy getting new ads in front of those eyeballs,” said Stuart Schwartzapfel, senior vice president, media partnerships at iSpot. “All five of March’s most-seen automaker creatives debuted that month, a clear sign that these brands view March – and college basketball – as a premier opportunity for new campaigns around sales and vehicle features.”

The top brands by spend for the month were GMC ($17.7 million), Nissan ($17.7 million), Buick ($17.4 million),Toyota ($16.7 million) and Jeep ($15.1 million), per iSpot.

Toyota was on top for TV ad impressions for the month, with 2.82 billion, according to  Rounding out the top five were Hyundai (1.76 billion), Chevrolet (1.74 billion), Nissan (1.46 billion) and GMC (1.30 billion).

GMC, like many automotive brands, put a significant emphasis on college basketball programming in March, with 91% of its national TV ad spend put toward men’s college basketball (particularly the NCAA Tournament). 

Nissan was similarly focused on hoops, with over 75% of its national TV ad spend spread between men’s college basketball, women’s college basketball and the NBA.

Infiniti registered the biggest spending increase for the month compared to March 2021, up 18,672%. After barely advertising on national TV in March 2021 with just 31 total ad airings, Infiniti had 2,339 airings in Mar. 2022 – and an emphasis on news programs (the source of 19.1% of the brand’s spend for the month). 

Other brands with notable increases included Toyota (157%), which put greater budget during men’s college basketball games this March (11.0% of spend) vs. last (2.4%). Mercedes-Benz  was up 75.5% followed by Volkswagen (41.9%) and Jeep (26.5%).

Additionally, Lucid Motors spent $2.5 million in March 2022 after avoiding spending at all a year ago. Nearly 99% of this year’s media dollars went toward the Oscars.

The top programs for automakers by TV ad impressions' share of voice for the month included men’s college basketball (16.6%), NBA (1.7%), “Friends” (1.1%), “Law & Order: SVU” (1.1%) and “Big Bang Theory” (0.9%).

Automakers emphasized men’s college basketball in March, with 23% more impressions during games this March vs. last. In general, basketball played a larger role in auto brand TV ad impressions, with 18.9% of all impressions on the month this year – versus 12.9% last March. 

While automakers had a lesser percentage of impressions during reality TV programs this March vs. last (11.0% vs. 14.0%), there were increases for show genres like news (7.1% to 8.4%) and sitcoms (5.1% to 6.4%).

The top networks for automaker TV ad impressions  for the month were CBS (2.30 billion), NBC (872 million), Fox News (818 million), TBS (773 million) and ABC (763 million).

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