After slashing TV advertising spending during a disastrous 2009, automakers are putting more money into TV again and changing the shape of the annual upfront TV buying season in the process.
As sales increase, "This is the make-or-break-it year for a lot of automakers as they try to set their trajectory for where their share is going to be for the next couple of years," said Fred Sattler, managing director of Initiative+, the U.S. media-buying agency for Hyundai and Kia.
The increase in TV advertising began late in the fourth quarter of 2009, when automakers started spending more on year-end sales campaigns. That trend continued in the first quarter as auto spending jumped more than 60 percent from year-ago levels on local TV.
At the same time, cable increased 20 percent and broadcast network spending grew 14 percent, reported Kantar Media, a global data and consulting firm that tracks TV spending.
But the biggest change is in the upfront market, where advertisers historically make initial purchases of TV advertising for fall programs.