If other automakers followed Nissan's model of treating online portals like Yahoo! and Google as equal to TV networks, the car industry would be able to cut back on its $17 billion annual domestic ad buy, according to Jan Thompson, Nissan North America's VP-marketing. To build a case for a new ad model, Thompson points to statistics showing auto advertising has skyrocketed 1,378% over the past two decades, compared to a 17% increase in new-vehicle sales.

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