SYDNEY: The automotive category is Australia’s largest and fastest growing for media spend with TV and programmatic on the rise as social media spending remains flat.

According to Jane Schulze, Managing Director at Standard Media Index (SMI), automotive brands are the number one spender in the local market – and still growing. The SMI is compiled using agency data and includes programmatic ad spend, search and social.

“Automotive ad spend is extremely robust. It really is underpinning a lot of the media market at the moment,” Schulze told Mumbrella’s Automotive Marketing Summit in Sydney. (For more automotive ad spend trends in Australia, read WARC’s exclusive report: The state of Australia’s automotive advertising market.)

She noted that the auto category over-indexes slightly when it comes to TV spend and digital spend, although auto still indexes below the industry average for outdoor investment – one of Australia’s fastest-growing channels.

Programmatic has been a major winner, with increased investment across a variety of sub-sectors in the category. Search spend is also slightly up. But social remains flat, she said. However, with so many new digital channels now offering opportunities, the ad spend landscape is constantly changing.

“It feels a little bit like the Wild Wild West because there's a lot of movement in terms of where the money is going,” Schulze observed. “Within digital media, everyone is still testing.”

Though the influence of millennials is much vaunted across most categories, in the automotive sector baby boomers still reign supreme – and it’s likely to stay that way for a while. Forty five per cent of buyers in 2017 so far have been aged over 50, according to Ben Sullivan, group director insights and innovation at Potentiate.

While 50% of vehicle sales in Australia were financed in 2016, data indicates that, once again, boomers are the sector least likely to require financing options – they enjoy the most purchasing power.

“They've got lots and lots of money, and they're living large,” said Sullivan.

Data sourced from WARC