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Automotive Dealers Forced to Rethink Ad Budgets

The Television Bureau of Advertising announced last week that television revenue fell by 27.6% in the first quarter. Adding to that, spending in the automotive category of local broadcast TV fell a whopping 52.1% in the first quarter of the year.

Traditionally holding the top spot among individual spenders, autos are hitting local stations’ revenues particularly hard. While bad for local broadcast stations, I think there is some silver lining to this dark cloud. Has the economy finally forced local automotive dealers to rethink their television advertising budgets? I hope so.

Television is a traditional medium that offers questionable ROI or tracking ability. In today’s world, dealerships are looking to advertise more and spend less. This isn’t going to happen with TV ads. Autos have long loved this medium where they can catch consumers’ attention, usually at the expense of their dignity. Am I calling for an end of “Crazy Eddie’s Used Cars” commercials where Eddie literally saws something in half to demonstrate their slashed prices? Kind of. While TV spots can useful for dealers, there are so many other ways (more ROI and tracking friendly ways) to reach targets. Only you know what works for your dealership, but some mediums I think will gain traction are:

* Email marketing
* Using YouTube to launch commercials
* Social Media
* Direct Phone calls to customers (especially for service work)
* Targeted PPC campaigns
* Radio

So what are you doing with your ad budget?

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