Less money spent on TV may provide an opportunity for radio. According to iSpot.tv, automakers spent nearly 20% less on national TV in May compared to a year ago. In May 2023, automotive spending on TV ads was $156.2 million, compared to $193.3 million in May 2022. However, household TV ad impressions rose nearly 4% year-over-year, iSpot.tv says, from 26.3 billion to 27.4 billion.
Looking at data from iSpot.tv, MediaPost lists the top five brands by estimated national TV ad spending in May 2023 as Kia ($17.2 million), Lexus ($13.2 million), Toyota ($12.2 million), Ram Trucks ($11.4 million), and Chevrolet ($11.1 million).
The most-seen ads by share of household TV ad impressions in May 2023 were Chevrolet: “Big Life” (2.40%), Ram Trucks: “For Every Season” (2.11%), Subaru: “Dog Tested: Off-Roading” (2.06%), Infiniti: “Guy Thing” (1.86%) and Chevrolet: “A Whole New Level” (1.73%).
Sports and reality TV were the targeted programs for a bulk of May auto advertising on TV. Kia increased its ad spending by 10.6% year-over-year, with nearly half of the ads (49.3%) placed during NBA games. Lexus decreased its TV ad spending year-over-year, but the ads it did place were during specific TV programs including “SportsCenter” (+31.8%) and “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (+122%). Toyota increased its advertising during the NASCAR Cup Series by 5.1% during May, compared to the same period last year.
“Many automakers spent May getting a jump on summer, emphasizing SUV and truck inventory during sporting events to tie into consumer travel and getaways while also tying into the start of the summer sales cycle,” Stuart Schwartzapfel, Executive VP of Media Partnerships at iSpot.tv told MediaPost. “As the pool of live sports and new scripted shows shrinks these next couple months, reality programming is likely to be in the driver’s seat for automotive brand impression deliveries around seasonal sales and 2024 vehicle introductions.”
The biggest estimated spending increases among the top 15 brands by spend in May were BMW (+1,736%), Polestar (+288%), Audi (+66.0%), Ram Trucks (+28.6%), and Kia (+10.6%), according to iSpot.tv.
BMW’s big year-over-year spending increase during May was due largely to NBA playoff games, MediaPost reports, which accounted for nearly 80% of the automaker’s ads during the month. The automaker did not advertise during NBA games in May 2022. Audi was another automaker that didn’t advertise during NBA games in 2022. In 2023, the NBA was where the bulk of its advertising landed, approximately 33.6% of its total ad spending.
Ram Trucks increased its ad spend by 40.3% on sports-related programming in May. However, news and information programming are where the largest increase in spending occurred – up 169.2% compared to May 2022. Heavy ad placement occurred during “Today,” “Today 3rd Hour,” and “CBS Mornings.”
The top five brands by share of automaker household TV ad impressions in May were Chevrolet (10.08%), Toyota (9.09%), Lexus (8.64%), Hyundai (7.45%), and Ram Trucks (7.12%).
The top programs for automakers by share of household TV ad impressions in May were NBA (6.24%), “SportsCenter” (1.33%), NHL (1.32%), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (0.67%), and MLB (0.52%), iSpot.tv reports.
The NBA Playoffs and MLB action were favorite targets for auto advertising. The NBA accounted for 8.5% more automotive brand TV ad impressions year-over-year during the month, while impressions during MLB games grew by 39.3%.
The NBA playoffs resulted in ESPN delivering the most household TV ad impressions share of voice, which had a 45.66% SOV for automakers on the network. TNT, which also carries the NBA, also had a year-over-year bump in SOV for automotive brand impressions, up from 6.42% in May 2022 to 7.98% in May 2023.