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Automotive advertising expenditure across fourteen key markets totaled $35.5 billion in 2018, with $18 billion coming from the US auto market alone. However, while it accounted for almost half of the total ad spend across these markets, data from a new report [pdf] by Zenith shows that US auto ad spend has actually declined by 12% since 2012.

While auto ad spend is decreasing in the US, the picture in emerging markets is very different. In China, ad spend has grown by 47% over the past 6 years, while India is the fastest-growing auto ad market with an estimated average of 12.8% year-on-year growth between 2018-2020.

So, where are automotive companies spending their advertising dollars?

More than half (54.4%) of total auto ad spend in 2018 was directed toward TV advertising – a figure well above the global average of 32.9% of across all categories. The auto industry is following the prevailing trends in one way, though: in the coming year, Zenith expects TV’s share of ad spend for the auto industry to go down — dipping to 52.1% in 2020.

By contrast, automotive companies are allocating only 22.9% of their advertising budgets towards digital advertising, about half the global average of 40.6%. As TV ad spend share is expected to fall in the coming year, digital ad spend will more than make up for the shortfall, rising to 24.4% by 2020.

In the US, figures from eMarketer estimate that the US auto industry accounts for about 12.6% of total digital ad spend, making it second only to retail.

Zenith’s data also notes that radio attracts 7.3% of auto ad spend, with the report stating that radio advertising is fairly effective for automotive brands. This may be a reason why the automotive category spends more than the global average of 6%.

About the Data: Zenith’s figures cover auto industries in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. Between them, these markets account for 74% of all car sales by volume and 76% of global ad spend across all categories, so advertising trends in these markets are representative of trends worldwide.

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