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Commentary & Voices

2019 Auto Bowl: OEM Ads Produce Huge Spikes in Consumer Interest


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Despite lower viewership, the Big Game remains an attractive single-point mass reach advertising opportunity, and five OEM advertisers took advantage of that, all of them to boost awareness and interest for new vehicles (Audi e-Tron, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, and the return of the Toyota Supra).


Toyota had the most event exposure overall, with a second commercial featuring the RAV4 Hybrid and sponsorship of the Halftime Report. As has historically been the case, this offline exposure for OEMs translates to immediate online behavior – including vehicle research and shopping across Cox Automotive – and this year was no exception.

The only brand to advertise an established model, Toyota, showed solid performance as well, with a 141% spike in RAV4 Hybrid traffic on KBB and a 79% boost on Autotrader for the RAV4 overall (all trims). This is notable in that historically, brands advertising established models in the Big Game don’t always show substantial gains in traffic – it’s typically the fresh, new, never seen before advertisers who win the night, so for longstanding RAV4 to experience this kind of lift is very positive for Toyota. And even better, Toyota achieved the second highest brand lift among the advertisers (+32%) on Autotrader and without the benefit of Supra traffic (the vehicle is not available yet on Autotrader or KBB for tracking).


Despite a flurry of criticism about Kia’s spot (the advertiser choosing an emotional route creatively that appeared to play depressing with viewers), the commercial drove immediate interest, indicated by impressive traffic gains across Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. Kia’s Telluride had the strongest traffic lift among the advertised models on Autotrader (over 10K%), and the brand overall had the strongest gain among the advertisers on KBB (+166). Sister brand, Hyundai, also had a good night , posting the second highest model lift on Autotrader for the Palisade (+2,057%) and the second highest overall brand gain on KBB (+62%). Interestingly, neither of those spots even mentioned the vehicle audibly, with Hyundai showing the Palisade but focusing its messaging on its Shopper Assurance program (and with a completely different creative approach from Kia, using celebrity and humor with Jason Bateman’s “The Elevator”).

Audi and Mercedes-Benz

The luxury brands also fared well, Audi acquiring a substantial lift in e-Tron traffic on KBB (+6,400%) and achieving the highest overall brand lift among the advertisers on Autotrader (+33%). Mercedes-Benz predictably played in the game this year (given the event was at Mercedes-Benz Stadium), and their introduction of the entry-level A-Class paid off with a 1,943% gain in traffic on Autotrader after the spot aired, the brand also achieving a 36% lift in overall Mercedes-Benz new car traffic on KBB.

Perhaps the most notable stat of all, however, was the diminished presence of the automotive category overall in the event. There were roughly half the number of automotive spots compared to prior years (with all of the domestics absent this year) – an indication of industry and consumer shifts, increased budget scrutiny, and continued fragmentation of media options and efforts.

Download below the 2019 Auto Bowl Game Night Results, including brand and model research, shopping activity and post-air website traffic volumes.

2019 Auto Bowl Game Night Results


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