TVB Conference: 15 Million Car Sales For 2012

Cash For Clunkers had "very mild" affect

The news related to automotive, the most significant ad category in television, was mixed coming out of the Television Bureau of Advertising's Forecast Conference in New York today. While both factories and dealers continue to withhold huge sums of advertising cash, things look brighter down the road.

TNS Media Intelligence SVP of Research Jon Swallen said the industry was on pace to sell just over 10 million cars this year-down from 16-17 million in recent years. That looks to jump to 12 million next year. "It's way below average," said National Automobile Dealers Association President Phil Brady, "but it's a move in the proper direction."

Things look rosier as soon as 2012, with a forecast of 15 million vehicles sold and an ad spend of $7 billion. As recently as 2003, that expenditure stood at around $8.5 billion.

Swallen said the recently concluded Cash For Clunkers program, which moved over 700,000 automobiles, had a "very mild stimulus affect," as it frequently moved up some ad dollars without actually increasing the spend.

He also noted that the numerous dealer closings from GM and Chrysler were a relative drop in the bucket in terms of ad dollars. The closed GM dealers were responsible for no more than 15% of GM's spot spending, and the contracted Chrysler dealers were less than 10%.

"It's something to be concerned about, but it's not a black hole that we'll fall into," Swallen said.

Brady says station sales staffs can be proactive about auto sales by maintaining strong relationships with local auto dealers. "Know your local dealer association and participate in their events," he said. "It does make a difference."