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Automotive Online Ad Spending Revs Up

US auto industry will spend $3.24 billion online this year

After hitting a 27-year sales low in 2009, the US auto industry appears to be on the road to recovery. Economic indicators have automakers feeling more confident about 2011 sales as pent-up demand continues to fuel consumer interest.

Ad spending is picking back up as well. For the first nine months of 2010, Kantar Media reported that measured US auto ad spending increased by 23.7% over the same period in 2009. Online, eMarketer estimates auto industry ad spending was up 13.9% in 2010 after a dramatic decline of 11.4% in 2009. This year, a 14% increase in US automotive online ad spending will push outlays to $3.24 billion. By 2015, the auto industry will be spending $5.8 billion online, eMarketer forecasts.

“Given the high percentage of vehicle shoppers using the internet, the auto industry has yet to realize the full potential of online efforts,” said Victoria Petrock, eMarketer senior research analyst and author of the new report, “Automotive Advertising Picks Up Speed Online.” “As overall budgets return to higher levels, online tactics will provide new ways to streamline and coordinate initiatives, measure efforts and reach consumers in more personal ways.”

“More importantly, as consumers continue to diversify their use of online and offline media, auto companies will focus on integrating their campaigns—and online will grow as a reinforcement to some tried-and-true traditional efforts,” Petrock added.

As a result of its internet ad spending growth, auto industry spending will account for a progressively larger percentage of total online spending. eMarketer, which benchmarks its forecasts on numbers from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers (IAB/PwC), projects that total online ad spending for all automotive categories, including vehicle sales, parts and maintenance, will account for 11.4% of total US online ad spending in 2011 and reach 13% of the total in 2015.

Online video is the fastest-growing online ad format, and its role in the vehicle research and purchase process is increasing in importance. Consumers are watching more video on branded auto sites, third-party websites, YouTube and other video destinations. A November 2010 survey by DIGIDAY and Adap.tv found that 31.9% of video content providers in North America said automotive was a leading industry for online video advertising.

The study also found that such spending is typically siphoned away from static online display, print advertising and broadcast TV budgets.

“Display advertising will fuel online spending,” said Petrock. “Banner ads, rich media, online video and evolving forms of targeted ads are already providing manufacturers, dealer associations and local dealers with opportunities to build brand awareness, showcase new models and drive consumers to purchase.”


The full report, “Automotive Advertising Picks Up Speed Online,” also answers these key questions:

  • How big is the US online automotive advertising market and how fast is it growing?
  • What is driving the growth of online automotive advertising?
  • What role do search, social media and mobile formats play in automotive marketing?
  • How are auto advertisers making use of integrated campaigns?

To purchase the report, click here. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.


Check out today’s other article, “Search Behavior Shines Spotlight on Organic Results.”

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