Automotive TV Spending Up 15.4% In September

National automotive TV spending rose to $227.9 million, up 15.4% in September compared to $197.4 million a year ago, according to

Household TV ad impressions also rose to 31.2 billion in September, compared to 25.6 billion a year ago, up 21.8%.

The top five brands by estimated national TV ad spending for the month were Ford ($27.4 million), Toyota ($23.1 million), Chevrolet ($21.1 million), Hyundai ($16 million) and Jeep ($14.3 million).

The most-seen automaker ads by share of household TV ad impressions, September 2023 was Subaru: Push Your Limits (2.75%), Ram Trucks: Life (2.37%), Volkswagen: Carpool Chaos (2.10%), Nissan: All In (1.69%) and Chevrolet: For All of Life’s Firsts (1.66%).



NFL and college football games accounted for over half of the September 2023 estimated national TV ad spend from all of the top five automakers. 

Ford increased its total outlay by 12x, mostly driven by football: The automaker upped its spend on NFL games 95x compared to September 2022 and increased its investment in college games by 489x year-over-year. Jeep, which had a 10% year-over-year increase in total estimated spend, also went bigger on college football, doubling its spend this September vs. September 2022.

Football was the primary focus for automakers this September, with college games reaching a similarly sized audience by TV ad impressions, but with a lower price tag compared to NFL games, says Stuart Schwartzapfel, EVP, media partnerships at iSpot. 

“Brands were also efficient with daytime programming in September, though, as automakers continued to reach large audiences across programming such as 'House Hunters,' 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' and 'Family Feud,'” he says.

Part of Toyota’s 37.4% year-over-year growth in estimated national TV ad spend was due in part to an increased investment in Spanish-language programming (+86% year-over-year).

The top five brands by share of automaker household TV ad impressions in September 2023 were Chevrolet (9.20%), Toyota (8.84%), Nissan (8.18%), Ford (7.62%) and Lexus (7.31%).

The biggest estimated spend increases among top 15 brands by spend, September 2023 vs. September 2022, were Polestar (new vs. September 2022) with estimated spending for September 2023: $5.3 million followed by Ford (+1,074%), Volkswagen (+53%), Lexus (+37.7%) and Toyota (+37.4%).

Polestar, which didn’t advertise on national TV in September 2022, went big on NFL this September: Those games accounted for nearly 70% of its total spend on the month, with 75% of its NFL spend going toward airings during games on Sept. 10. 

Meanwhile, Volkswagen increased its outlay in "House Hunters" 19x this September vs. September 2022, while more than doubling its NFL investment and nearly tripling its spend across college football year-over-year. Lexus also leaned into "House Hunters," with a 642% year-over-year increase in spend. 

The top programs for automakers by share of household TV ad impressions in September 2023 were college football (8.14%), NFL (7.13%), SportsCenter (0.68%), "House Hunters"(0.59%) and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (0.57%).

Unsurprisingly, football was a driving force for automaker TV ad impressions in September, with a 69% year-over-year impressions increase for college football and a 36% increase for NFL games. Outside of sports, programming with some of the biggest year-over-year impression increases for automakers included "Family Feud" (+421% vs. September 2022), "House Hunters" (+244%) and "America’s Got Talent" (+104%). 

The top networks for automakers by share of household TV ad impressions in September 2023 were NBC (6.42%), Fox (4.38%) CBS (4.00%), ESPN (3.93%) and ABC (3.82%). 

Football played an integral role generating automaker TV ad impressions across all of the top five networks. Over half of automaker TV ad impressions on NBC came from NFL games, with college football delivering another 14%. 

On Fox, NFL games generated 45% of automaker impressions, while college football accounted for 39%. On CBS, NFL and college football were similarly matched, with the former delivering just over a third and the latter just under a third of all automaker impressions. For ESPN and ABC, college football played the biggest role (52% of auto impressions on ESPN, 50% on ABC). 

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