Online Auto Ads to Rise 15 Percent

NEW YORK Automobile manufacturers are expected to spend $1.3 billion in online advertising this year, up 15 percent from 2002, according to a new study from Borrell Associates.

At the local level, dealers are now spending $2 on interactive advertising for every $3 they spend on local television, according to Borrell in Hampton Roads, Va.

“The big losers, to date, have been local TV stations, which have failed to seize the online opportunity,” the report says. Borrell estimates local broadcast outlets will generate less than $30 million from automotive ads this year.

Newspaper Web sites will get only $150 million of that pie, but grouped together as an industry, newspapers are the largest recipient of local automotive dollars, the study says. Projected to bring in $120 million in 2003, Autotrader.com will receive more dollars than any other single car site. Autotrader is also the national leader in terms of the number of car listings and the time consumers spend on its site. EBay Motors has the largest audience of the national car sites.

The study points out that if all newspaper automobile listings were aggregated in a single network, it would possibly unseat eBay Motors as the most popular car site. The largest newspaper car collective, Cars.com, has less than 10 percent of all newspapers as participants, the study says. “The key ingredient missing from newspapers’ approach to automotive advertising is cooperation,” the study says.

There’s still a disconnect between manufacturer/dealer advertising and consumers’ use of the Internet, Borrell also finds. While 47 percent of potential car buyers use the Internet as a research tool, only 4.5 percent of total automotive advertising spending goes to new media.

The report, “Automotive Advertising Online: Review and Outlook,” is the latest on Web-based classified advertising from Borrell, in conjunction with Ad Audit Services, a New York-based data firm.

—Editor & Publisher staff report