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3 Trends in Digital Advertising: H1 2017 Roundup

October 11 2017 by Ken Roberts

Pathmatics gives brand managers a massive amount of data right at their fingertips. But volume of data isn’t enough. It must be used sensibly if you want to improve your digital advertising strategy.

The rise of automated ad buying over the past few years has created a more complex, less transparent advertising industry that leaves brand managers with unanswered questions like, “Am I spending my budget efficiently?” or “Where is my budget really going?”

It also leaves us questioning what our competitors are doing, and where the industry is headed. With such a lack of transparency, it’s hard to know how effective or competitive your ad spend strategies really are. 

Pathmatics cuts through the confusion with ad intelligence software powerful enough to not only identify where brands are spending, but also piece together the path each ad took before it was delivered to the audience. For the sake of a more transparent digital advertising world, we wanted to share this proprietary data with you.

Here are some of our top insights on the state of digital in 2017, based on H1 data.

Major Brands Torn on Budget Allocation 

In an assessment of top advertisers across categories and platforms, there was a significant amount of turnover when looking at the biggest spenders in H1 2016 compared to H1 2017.

Capital One dropped from the third-highest spender on ads in H1 2016 to 14th on the list in H1 2017. The bank cut its ad budget in half, spending just $47 million on ads in H1 2017 compared to $95 million in H1 2016. Ancestry.com also made major cuts to ad budget across channels. In H1 2016, the company spent more than $59 million on ads; it spent just $8 million in H1 2017. SC Johnson & Son saw a precipitous budget decrease as well, from $60 million to $8 million over the same period. 

Several major brands took the places of these fallen giants on the biggest spenders list. Apple catapulted into the number one spot on the spending list, shelling out $177 million on ads in H1 2017, much of it to promote new product launches. Amazon took the number five spot, with $69 million in ad spend. And Hulu came out of nowhere to take the number seven spot with $65 million in ad spend.

Given the dollar values involved, these decreases and increases indicate some major changes in strategic direction for these brands. Some are opting to reallocate tens of millions of dollars away from digital ads, while others have invested a huge amount of money in desktop, mobile, and video platforms.

Financial Services Run the (Digital Ad) World


Financial services spent more than $942 million from Jan. 1 - June 30 in 2017 between its top 500 advertisers, while the auto industry, the next highest spender, spent a little more than $653 million. Financial services’ big spender, GEICO, spent more than 14 percent of the industry’s total budget, capping out at nearly $138 million.


Apple Gets Aggressive

After spending time at the number 12 spender spot in H2 2016, Apple Inc. upped their budget by more than $100 million in H1 2017, up to about $177 million. Most of this spend went to promotion of the Apple Watch Series 2, with six out of the top ten Apple advertisements featuring the product, at about $41 million in spend.

Interested in learning more about your specific industry or what your competitors are up to? With Pathmatics, you can round up your own state of the industry report whenever you need to analyze trends or benchmark your industry.

Try a demo of Pathmatics to see for yourself.

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About Author
Ken Roberts

Ken Roberts has been immersed in marketing and technology for over a decade, merging creative strategies with the latest technology, to bring products together with the people who need them. With degrees in Engineering, Computer Science and an MBA, Ken’s background in product management, marketing, sales, analytics and technology lends to his ability to attack product challenges on multiple levels. Ken began his career developing software solutions for medical records before transitioning to marketing. Ken focused on building marketing departments and operating in-house agencies. Ken’s experience with digital platforms, internet based marketing, lead scoring and business intelligence, and reporting, as well as a keen market understanding, are a welcome addition to Pathmatics, only matched by a leadership philosophy that encourages high creativity and ownership from his team.

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