General Motors is slashing its spending on network advertising, TV executives say. The automaker is placing greater emphasis on experimenting with new media and integrating its vehicles into entertainment content.
Broadcast and cable networks are waiting anxiously to see where GM will spend its ad dollars in "upfront" negotiations. During the upfront season each spring, automakers and other marketers lock in commercial time for shows that will air in the fall.
Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of North American vehicle sales, service and marketing, has confirmed that the company is increasing its overall U.S. ad budget by about 10 percent this year. GM spent nearly $2.51 billion to advertise in all U.S. media last year, TNS Media Intelligence reports.
The automaker has outlined its intention to shift some ad spending from cable TV to new-media options such as video on demand, which allows viewers to pay to order TV shows or movies through local cable systems. Those programs are delivered instantly to their sets.
"It's safe to say the next move is from cable to" video on demand, says Betsy Lazar, GM's general director of advertising and media operations.
"We used to do 30-second spots on network" TV, Lazar says. "Now we think more about our video assets and how we use them across different mediums. We don't think 30-second spots are dead, but we just changed our thinking about them."
The automaker also is spending more on Internet sites and broadband video.
This year, GM launched its Pontiac Solstice roadster on the NBC reality seres "The Apprentice." TV executives say GM is seeking a similar product placement opportunity next season.