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Automotive|June 20, 2022

Playing to Win: How Automotive Dealers Capitalize on Sports Marketing

Three Best Practices for Maximizing Your Sports Ad Dollars

football team on field before snap

Seven years ago, Tomes Auto Group altered its approach to advertising.

Today, sports marketing remains a key way to reach consumers. Live sports is the crown jewel of television—the most watched, most valuable programming, and the most powerful place to advertise. According to Nielsen, sports accounted for 98% of the 50 most viewed programs in 2021 on U.S. television.1

Some 99% of viewers who watch sports watch them live or within the same day.2 It's a dependable place for "appointment" viewing—and a place where ads are seen, not skipped.

West Herr Auto Group in Western New York State also knows the power of sports marketing. "As a marketer, you want to focus your efforts where there is consumer attention—and for many people, that’s a disproportionate interest in sports," says Matt Lasher, West Herr marketing director.

The auto group has signed a roster of current and former professional football players who serve as local community ambassadors for its dealership. "People have a high emotional connection to sports," Lasher says. "By associating with people they like, we get some of that good vibe."

With many ways to connect with fans, how can you maximize your investment in sports? How can you make sure your ads reach the fans you want to reach? The experts at Spectrum Reach suggest these best practices to get the most out of your sports marketing dollars:

Go Multiscreen

Today, the average U.S. household has 25 connected devices, twice as many as two years ago.3 Sports fans are watching their favorite teams and key games not only around the big screen in the living room but also in the backyard on a laptop and on the go on tablets and phones—and sometimes on two screens at once. To ensure maximum reach and frequency, dealers should build a multiscreen strategy that includes both linear and streaming TV. Adding streaming to a linear-only campaign will increase a campaign's reach by 28%, Spectrum Reach research has found.4

Broaden the Sports Lineup

Although the "big four" professional sports are always a starting point for advertisers, Americans have a seemingly bottomless appetite to watch sports.

Many sports are growing in popularity. For instance, soccer is surpassing hockey with U.S. viewers—especially with the Hispanic demographic.5 Dealerships can seek out these and other less high-profile, but effective places to reach unique fans or to reach avid sports consumers with added frequency.

In addition to utilizing professional athletes as ambassadors, collegiate student athletes are now able to make endorsement deals, and dealerships also can build distinctive and locally relevant campaigns around those athletes.

Better Ad Targeting

Today marketers can buy TV ad time the same way they buy digital ads on search engines, social media, or websites. Rather than rely on demographics such as men 25-54 years old, with the help of the impressions-based measurement, an advertiser can target audiences with a higher propensity to purchase.

Spectrum Reach takes its aggregated and de-identified first-party audience viewership data and overlays that with privacy-focused third-party automotive data. By doing this, it can be determined how different tastes in sports programming reveals separate preferences across car brands.

Many dealers used to operate on faith and guts when throwing dollars at big sporting events on TV. They knew the ratings were there but wondered about the ultimate impact. The fragmentation of the media landscape has made it even harder to measure results consistently across advertising platforms.

That makes it more important to work with partners who offer easy-to-use dashboards and solid attribution solutions. Spectrum Reach, for instance, has partnered with industry leaders in attribution (TV Squared) and data privacy (Blockgraph) to build a multiscreen attribution solution. Solutions like these can help advertisers connect the dots, linking ad exposures for both linear and streaming TV to business outcomes such as website visits. This means dealers avoid ad waste.

"We decided we only wanted TV advertising that involved sporting events because people are dialed in; their eyeballs are glued to the screen."

- Brandon Tomes

President of Tomes Auto Group and its Texas dealerships

The Bottom Line

Sports marketing is a powerful way to advertise and can be effective for dealerships. Taking time to follow these strategies and really get it right can help you hit it out of the park.


Create a successful campaign.

Spectrum Reach Automotive provides local knowledge, multiscreen solutions, unmatched audience insights, and creative expertise. We connect auto advertisers with the right customers anywhere, on every screen. Grow your dealership with the best insights, content, products, and people.