The last several months haven’t been kind to the auto industry — from closed plants and dealerships to inventory shortages — but an uptick in radio advertising suggests business could again be on the upswing.
According to the latest data from Media Monitors, which tracks advertising in 85 markets, the top 10 automotive advertisers (as of mid-August) have aired 1.268 million spots across radio, television and cable this year. That’s nearly 170,000 more than last year’s pace.
Better yet, the business has gone overwhelmingly to radio (1,240,036 spots), followed by television (22,508) and cable (5,116).
“These investments appear to have had a positive impact,” Philippe Generali, President and CEO of Media Monitors, says in a news release. “Despite the pandemic — or perhaps because of it — there are silver linings. More consumers are vacationing by car, and dealers are re-imagining the customer journey.”
O’Reilly Auto Parts is far and away radio’s top patron in the auto segment so far this year with 687,939 spots. It’s followed by NAPA at 270,283. Those two companies alone have combined for more than 77% of this year’s radio spot load.
Rounding out the Top 10 are Fuccillo Kia (50,565), David Stanley Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM (34,930), Galeana Kia (41,220), Pep Boys (29,220), JT’s Kia (37,558), Bobb Automotive (32,651), RC Hill Mitsubishi (29,890) and Greenway Kia (25,780).
Auto sales and Q2 earnings for the industry have brought mixed results. Media Monitors notes that some manufacturers, Hyundai and Mazda among them, saw slightly higher sales in July. General Motors and Ford, meanwhile, topped analyst expectations and reported losses that weren’t as bad as anticipated.
“As fall approaches, both dealers and auto parts stores are finding promising new reasons to reach out to shoppers,” Generali says. “In fact, now is a good time for automotive advertisers to shift into a higher gear.”
Generali’s optimism is no doubt enhanced by the fact that customer demand for autos is on the rise as the U.S. economy goes about a recovery. Online car shopping has certainly helped the overall picture: According to a recent survey conducted by CarGurus, 61% of shoppers say they’re interested in buying online, compared to 32% pre-pandemic. This has led dealers to upgrade e-commerce options and add delivery and curbside pickup of vehicles.
“Like many other industries, automotive dealerships are re-imagining the shopping experience and that’s showing up in their advertising creative,” says Generali.