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Automotive Advertising: The Road Ahead for 2020

December 31st, 2019   ||    by David Bloom

The auto industry is going through huge changes, which means big changes for automotive advertising too. Those shifts include everything from more electric vehicles and self-driving cars, to company consolidations, fracturing audience attention, possibly difficult economic conditions, and shifts in production. But one thing is unlikely to change: the industry’s dominant position in advertising, which should make broadcasters very happy.

Local ad revenue in the US is projected to jump 5.8 percent in 2020, to $161.3 billion, according to BIA Advisory Services. The auto sector was estimated to spend over $11 billion on local advertising in 2019, MediaPost reported.

So what trends are likely to shape this year’s automotive ad sector? Here are several to watch as we move into what will likely be a complicated, confusing, and landmark year.

Tesla Ads?

Elon Musk’s company has famously eschewed traditional advertising, but it’s been a challenging year for the electric car maker in both production and profitability, CNN reported. Will the company turn to traditional marketing to boost sales now that it’s less of a novelty? One candidate for traditional ads might be that promised $49,000 pickup truck, according to Electrek, which would compete directly with heavyweights like the Ford F-150 for buyer attention.

Attention Deficit

The rise of online streaming—especially big-dollar services from Disney, Apple, Comcast, and AT&T launching this winter and spring—suggests viewer attention will be more fractured than ever. Broadcast remains the biggest source of reliable audiences, according to The New York Times, but auto marketers will need to find new ways to capture viewer attention and get them to a showroom in a mood to buy.

Omnichannel Omnipresence

Marketers are increasingly savvy about omnichannel campaigns that leverage the strength of traditional TV with newer platforms such as social and the web to reach audiences wherever they are.

New Metrics?

Broadcasters are increasingly grumpy about the limits of traditional ratings. It’s gotten to the point where they’ve begun adopting more inclusive measurements that capture all the ways their content is getting seen. Nexstar, for instance, said it will shift to a cost-for-impressions model, according to Forbes.

Live Lives On

Not surprisingly, auto ads have been a linchpin of sports advertising for years, and even more so recently, Broadcasting & Cable noted. Sports rights coming up for renewal should spark fierce bidding wars. The Super Bowl will, almost certainly, set more records in terms of cost per minute. And after a few years of controversy, football ratings once again have returned, absorbing a truly stunning amount of attention from football fans, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Going Big

The US carmakers—Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler—are basically becoming truck and SUV makers, ditching lower-margin compact cars and sedans, The Wall Street Journal reported. What does that mean for the future mix of products and resulting automotive advertising campaigns?

Is the Next Generation Here Yet?

Will ATSC 3.0 and addressable ads arrive? Local stations are betting big on the arrival of the next-generation broadcast standard ATSC 3.0. It provides interactivity, addressable ads, data services, and additional over-the-air channels in the same spectrum. Will ATSC 3.0 capabilities and compatible devices arrive in significant numbers in 2020 or slip another year or two?

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