Automotive National TV Spending Increases 5.2% In April, But Drops 6% YTD

Automotive national TV spending was up 5.2% in April compared to a year ago, but is down 6% year-to-date.

Estimated spending for April totaled $214.3 million compared to $203.7 million for April 2023, according to 

The year-to-date tally is $914.2 million, compared to $972.7 million during the same period in 2023. 

Perhaps more significantly, April 2024 household TV ad impressions were down 14% year-over-year -- 22.7 billion compared to 26.4 billion in April 2023. Year-to-date impressions were also down 10.6%, 89.4 billion compared to 99.9 billion. 

The top five brands by estimated national TV ad spending for April were:  Nissan ($29.2 million), Lexus ($14.9 million), Kia ($14.7 million), Jeep ($14 million) and  Ford ($12.8 million), according to 



The most--seen automaker ads by share of household TV ad impressions in April 2024 were Kia: Built for the Unstoppable (3.56%), Ram Trucks: Do Trucks (2.18%), Hyundai: Only a Tucson Compares (2.64%), Jeep: Room for the Unexpected (2.57%) and Dodge: Inner Child Intervention (2.43%).

Automakers’ focus on men’s college basketball continued in April. 

Although there were only three games that aired during the month (the two Final Four games and 2024 NCAA Championship), they accounted for over a third of the industry’s total estimated national TV ad spend — $77 million, a 74% increase from April 2023. Four of the top five brands ranked by spend advertised during games (Kia was the outlier, focusing on NBA games instead).

Automakers leaned on tentpole sports programming in April given those events’ high engagement and wide reach, but that was only part of the story for the industry, says Stuart Schwartzapfel, executive vice president, media partnerships at

“Nearly one out of every eight automotive TV ad impressions were delivered by reality TV shows during the month, and Spanish-language ad impressions also continued to grow,” Schwartzapfel tells Marketing Daily

Nissan upped its investment in men’s college basketball by 115% year-over-year, and increased outlay on the NFL draft by 339% vs. April 2023. Lexus increased spend during men’s college basketball by 61% year-over-year, and prioritized reaching additional sports-loving audiences by advertising across NHL, NBA and MLB games as well as during SportsCenter and the NFL draft.

The top five brands by share of automaker household TV ad impressions in April 2024 were Toyota (8.95%), Lexus (8.51%), Hyundai (8.23%), Kia (6.79%) and Subaru (6.39%), per

The biggest estimated spend increases among top 15 brands by spend in April 2024 vs. April 2023 were Ford (+301.3%), Jeep (+114.5%), Acura (+72.8%), Ram Trucks (+32.7%) and Nissan (+30.4%).

Men’s college basketball was key to much of the growth seen by automakers, with the highest year-over-year spend increases. Over half of Ford’s April TV ad spend went to men’s college basketball, which fueled much of its year-over-year growth — the automaker did not activate around games in April 2023. Similarly, Ram Trucks did not advertise during the 2023 April NCAA men’s basketball games, but spent nearly 40% of its total April 2024 monthly outlay on games. 

Both Jeep and Acura nearly doubled their investments in men’s college basketball year-over-year, with games accounting for 47% of the latter brand’s total spend for the month and 74% of the former’s. Jeep also upped outlay on NBA games by 204% year-over-year, with The Voice as its No. 3 program by spend (it did not advertise during the show in April 2023). 

Sports continued to do the heavy lifting for automakers in terms of TV ad impressions, led by the NBA, although impressions were relatively flat year-over-year (1% decrease vs. April 2023), per

Automaker impressions during MLB games increased by 20% year-over-year and the Masters Tournament delivered 11% more impressions compared to April 2023. Women’s college basketball ranked sixth for automaker impressions this April; No automakers advertised during the one women’s NCAA tournament game (the championship game) that took place in April 2023. 

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