Zenith Forecasts Modest Auto Ad Spending Comeback

A car being filmed
(Image credit: ipopba via Getty Images)

Automakers, a key advertising category, are expected to spend more on media in 2021 and 2022, following a deep 21% decline in 2020, ad agency Zenith forecast.

Despite the increases, spending in 2022 will remain 2.8% below 2019 levels, the forecast said. At the same time, overall spending is expected to be just 0.6% below 2019.

Digital is the only ad channel with 2022 spending topping 2019 levels, according to Zenith.

Auto brands will focus more on premium digital video to compensate for declining primetime TV ratings and make better use of their customer data to target digital ads more effectively, the report said. 

Digital spending will be 9% higher in 2022 than in 2019.

Television is the second-biggest channel for auto advertisers, with a 32% share of spending. The average brand spends 27% on television, Zenith said. 

But in 2020, spending will be 6% below 2019 levels, the agency said.

“Television is still a key platform for their mass-audience brand-building, though premium digital environments are starting to take over this role for some audiences,” the report said. “Auto advertisers also spend more in cinema, which is good at brand-building among young, relatively well-off audiences, and radio, a particularly relevant medium given that a large proportion of radio listening takes place in the car."

(Image credit: Zenith)
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.