Car Dealers Still Love Radio and TV Advertising

Over the last tumultuous decade, local radio and TV stations have not only survived, but thrived among car dealers with Automotive TV Advertising increasing over 50%.
Automotive Radio and TV Advertising Grow
Ten years ago 75¢ out of every dollar car dealers spent on advertising went to what we now call traditional media – Newspaper, Radio and TV. And if you go back another ten years from there, it’s more like 90¢ out of every dollar.

But as dealers have shifted more and more of their ad budget to internet marketing, traditional media’s share has dropped to little more than 50¢ of every buck – no big surprise there to anyone.

But what may surprise many is that every penny that’s been shifted out of traditional media and into digital has come straight out the local newspapers pocket according to the 2011 NADA Statistical Summary

I see reports every day on the death of traditional media, but most reports are overlooking this fact: The only traditional media on life support are the newspapers.

In fact, every single media category including direct mail and other ( billboards, point-of -purchase, magazines) has increased its share of budget – all at the expense of the local paper.

Here’s why:

Back in the days before Al Gore invented the internet, newspapers were the absolute, undisputed heavyweight champion of in-market car shopper. If you were shopping for a car, you shopped the newspaper because that’s where the deals were. Classified ads were the dealer inventory feeds of their day.

In today’s digital world, dealers feed their inventory into millions of searchable, sortable web listings that car shoppers have at their fingertips 24 hours a day. The champ has lost his monopoly. Google, today’s heavyweight champion of almost everything, is now beta testing their own inventory feed system to bypass Autotrader, ebay, CraigsList and TrueCar the way that they bypassed the newspapers classified section.

The internet has replaced the newspaper for low funnel, ready-to-buy-right-freaking-now buyers. And it’s pretty much replaced magazines for the very high funnel, I-wonder-which-car-gets-the-best-gas-mileage car researchers.

But what it hasn’t been able to do so far is replace radio and TV’s ability to pull buyers forward and turn next year and next month shoppers into today buyers.

Radio and TV are intrusive media reaching buyers no matter where they are in the marketing funnel. And they have the power to build excitement and urgency for sales events in way the internet has yet to perfect.

So yes, newspapers may be shutting their doors, laying people off and reaching for the respirator, but the next time you see a report on the death of all traditional media, don’t you believe it.

Terry Lancaster is the cofounder of Instant Events Automotive Advertising and has been helping dealers sell more cars using any and all available media since the Stone Tablet was the heavyweight champ.

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