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Global advertising investment by automotive brands is forecast to decrease by 12.4% year-on-year in 2023, continuing a long-term trend of declining spend by car-makers.

Aside from a post-COVID splurge in 2021, global automotive ad spend has reduced every year since 2016. Total investment fell 5.3% to $42.4bn in 2022, according to WARC Media. A similar pattern of shrinking investment can be seen at an advertiser level with FordGM, and Nissan.

In the decade since 2013, automotive’s share of total worldwide ad spend has dropped from 10.1% to a forecasted 4.1% this year.

As with many sectors, automotive investment in publishing media has collapsed over the last decade – from more than $8bn in 2016 to less than $2bn in 2022 – while spending on legacy channels like TV, audio, and OOH has also declined since pre-pandemic times.

In contrast, spending on digital channels has increased, with the prime beneficiaries being social media (+57.5% in 2021) and search (+51.7%). Among social platforms, Instagram is expected to earn the most from automotive investment in 2023, taking a 30.3% share of social budgets, according to WARC Media.

North America has long been a key market for the car industry – so much so that more than half (56.0%) of all ad investment by car companies will be spent in the US, WARC Media data shows. Thankfully for US media owners, automotive ad spend in that market has held up better than it has at a global level. WARC Media forecasts US automotive ad investment will grow 7.7% this year to reach $20.8bn, following a 3.8% contraction in 2022.