Based on 2017 holiday ad spend, the top ten retailers in the U.S. spent a combined $1.2 billion on advertising during November and December last year, with 62 percent of ad spend going to TV. According to data from Kantar Media, a total of 27 percent of the top retailers’ holiday ad spend went to digital sources, which included search, display, online video and Facebook. The firm broke out Facebook spend separately — six percent — to compare how retailers were allocating to TV compared to the social platform.
TV won majority of 2017’s holiday ad budgets. Kantar Media analyzed ad spend strategies for the top ten retailers last holiday season, a list that included Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, Macy’s, Kohls, JC Penney and Kay Jewelers. Among the retailers, Walmart spent the most on TV, allocating 76 percent of its budget to television ads — accounting for $193 million of its ad spend. At 96 percent, Kay Jeweler spent the largest share of its budget on TV.
Arguably the most interesting detail of TV ad spend by retailers during the holidays was how it spiked on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. While retailers went all in on TV ads during the retail industry’s biggest week of the year, their spend on Facebook was a much slower, gradual build up to Black Friday with an immediate drop after what has historically been the biggest shopping day of the year.
Digital ad spend. Digital — defined as search, display and online video with Facebook separated out — pulled, on average, 21 percent of ad dollars according to Kantar’s findings, while Facebook took six percent of ad dollars. Of the top ten retailers, Amazon spent the most on digital with 67 percent of its total budget going to search, display and online video and four percent on Facebook.
Facebook holiday ad spend. The most popular ad buys on Facebook were Carousel ads at 46 percent and link posts at 42 percent. Grabbing only six percent of total ad budgets, ad spend trends on Facebook were relatively steady, peaking just before Cyber Monday.
Why it matters. Kantar’s data shows the top retailers are paying close attention to consumer behavior during the holidays, with TV ad spend at a much different pace than Facebook ad spend — especially during the critical Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday time period.
“Major retail advertisers are using TV and Facebook with different strategies when it comes to the winter holidays. TV spend spikes on Thanksgiving day, then pulls back on Black Friday while retailers hope that shoppers are out at stores; meanwhile advertisers deploy a much steadier stream of Facebook ads from just before Thanksgiving to right before Cyber Monday to maximize connections with consumers throughout the peak shopping period,” said Manish Bhatia, CEO of Kantar Media North America.
When it comes to holiday ad strategies, Bhatia said retailers need to coordinate not only how much they’re spending, but when they’re spending on the separate platforms.
“Using TV and Facebook in tandem is ideal to reach audiences at scale while also being able to micro target. But to be effective, advertisers must tactically coordinate the weight they place on each media to maximize synergies for increased traffic and sales.”