The auto industry had a stunning 2015. 17,470,600 new cars and trucks sold, breaking the prior record from 2000. Automotive News says the performance “marks the longest streak of annual gains since the 1920s and caps a spectacular comeback for the industry.” 

Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at Edmunds.comsays:

“It’s truly remarkable that the auto industry is finishing off its best year ever just six years ever after the depths of the Great Recession. Low-APR offers and tumbling gas prices are making it easy for shoppers to buy or lease a new car, but don’t overlook the products themselves. If you’re buying a new car today, you’re getting a safer, more fuel-efficient and more technologically packed vehicle than ever before.” 

While sales have soared, media platforms historically used to build auto brands and move cars off dealer lots have experienced audience erosion.

1. Time spent reading magazines has sunk 32% to record lows in the last five years.

2. Television is losing audience — especially among younger viewers.

3. On a local level, cable and newspaper, once a mainstay for dealers, see sharp audience erosion. 



4. To reach new car buyers, AM/FM radio is America’s number one mass reach mobile medium.

Radio beats television 93% to 87% in adults 18+ reach. Among the crucial 18-34 Millennial target, AM/FM out reaches TV, 93% to 76%.

5. Among consumers who visit a car dealer during the weekend auto buying “primetime,” radio is number one in reach.

According to USA TouchPoints, radio is more effective at reaching buyers who visit an auto showroom. The crucial Friday to Sunday period accounts for 80% of all dealership traffic. During this auto purchase “prime time,” radio’s 84% reach beats all media among 18- to 64-year-olds who visit an auto showroom.  

6. The best place to reach new car buyers is in the very vehicle they drive each day.

Of all audio time spent in the car, AM/FM dominates with a 72% share.  

7. Streaming audio is the last place on earth to find new car buyers.

Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” study reports online radio has a microscopic 2% in car audience share compared to AM/FM’s whopping 72%. In car, AM/FM reaches 36 times more potential car buyers than all music streaming services combined.

In media planning circles these days, reach is the new black. TV, cable, and print have seen reach erosion. AM/FM radio ratings are stable. AM/FM is America’s number one mobile mass reach medium. Erwin Ephron, the father of modern media planning, said: “Reach trumps frequency. It’s media’s gift to advertising and radio can deliver it by the carload.”

Pierre Bouvard is CMO of Cumulus Media | Westwood One

Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.