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Advertisers: Here’s What You Need to Know About Black Friday

November 16 2017 by Jordan Kramer

Black Friday is upon us, and consumers are more than accustomed to the annual retail takeover. 

But, as advertisers trying to differentiate, do you have the competitive knowledge and know-how to stand apart during the holiday season—beyond Black Friday?

Below, we used Pathmatics to analyze ad spend in the lead up to the big day (note that we pulled 2016 data so we could provide a full analysis for the month of November).  

Advertisers with the Most Cheer (AKA Black Friday Budget)

Leading up to last year’s Black Friday, Best Buy Co., Inc spent more than any other brand, followed closely by Amazon, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble. See the top ten list of spenders below.


Even amidst the retail madness, the financial services industry remained the highest spender in November; however, retail took a close second and auto came in third.

Zeroing in on retail spend, top advertisers (behind Best Buy and Amazon) included Kohl’s, Target, Gap, Zulily, and more.

As expected, the increase from October to November is nothing short of drastic. Kohl’s is a prime example. The department store spent $343,500 in October and $11,214,800 in November. Similarly, Target spent $785,800 in October and $9,625,100 in November. 

Black Friday may be an age-old tradition, but it’s certainly still a top priority for retailers.


A Closer Look at Creative Ad Strategy: 3 Leading Tactics

After examining the creatives with the most impressions from last year’s holiday ramp-up, we decoded a few creative tactics of top retailers. It’s clear that advertisers continue to seek out inventive ways to leverage the biggest retail day of the year and maximize the season.


Here are three creative strategies from 2016’s top spenders—realized thanks to digital ad intelligence:

  1. Feature cyber-only deals. Most brands leveraged cyber deals in the lead up to Black Friday. Kohl’s created “cyber days,” and Best Buy offered early deals for online shoppers only. Brands tapped into the ease and popularity of online shopping, especially those consumers that avoid bustling stores during the holidays.
  2. Offer giveaways. Another popular tactic during the holiday season is giveaways. Old Navy’s ad (included above) is a good example. The clothing brand gave away $100,000 through Black Friday in 2016.  
  3. Extend the life of Black Friday. Advertisers have made sure Black Friday is no longer just one day; brands are spotlighting special deals from Nov. 1 through Cyber Monday (e.g. after the Thanksgiving weekend). A prime example: Amazon created “Deals Week” from Nov. 18 - 25. This special featured unique offers that would no longer be available on Black Friday.

While these creatives are specific to Black Friday, they could be a source of inspiration for your December approach or specialized ad campaigns throughout the year.  


What’s Trending for This Year’s Black Friday?

In the first two weeks of November, a few brands made a significant increase in spend as compared to last year. 

Best Buy has already spent upwards of $5 million; at this point last year, it was nearing $4 million in ad spend. eBay also upped its budget from roughly $500,000 in early Nov. 2016 to nearly $2 million.

Below, check out the top retail spenders so far (Nov. 1 - 12).


Only some brands have kicked off early advertising for Black Friday. Last year, Target ran a Black Friday early access ad on Nov. 10. This year, Target ran a Black Friday preview ad on Nov. 6. 

That said, Target lowered its ad spend significantly, from $2,362,200 (Nov. 1 - 12, 2016) to $842,500 during the same time frame in Nov. 2017. Are some retailers saving up for a big push the week of Black Friday?

Another big holiday spender, Walmart, released its first Black Friday ad on Nov. 9.

Other brands are holding out. The third and fourth biggest spenders so far this month, eBay and Zulily, have yet to heavily promote Black Friday deals.

It’s clear that when it comes to 2017 holiday ad promotions, the best is yet to come.

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About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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