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Holiday Marketing Budgets: Brands With The Top Digital Ad Spend

January 03 2018 by Jordan Kramer

What does your holiday and New Year budget look like?

AdAge reported that, for the first time in 2016, digital advertising surpassed TV with $72 billion in revenue. It’s no surprise that a majority of that ad spend occurred during the holiday season—the most wonderful time of the year for retailers indeed.

So, the question is, how much would a brand actually need to spend on holiday advertising to compete with the season’s biggest spenders?

Thanks to digital ad intelligence, we analyzed holiday marketing budgets of three of the top digital ad spenders in their respective industries. Read on for data and insights from the 2016 holiday season (Nov. 1 – Jan. 1) and take notes from last year’s dominant spenders.

Best Buy Co., Inc.

Although Best Buy ranked fourth on the top advertisers list, the electronic retail giant allocated $5.9 million of their total $38.6 million budget for digital ads on Black Friday alone (that’s 15% of their entire holiday season budget!). 

Best Buy also spent $3.5 million two days before Thanksgiving and used $2 million for ads on Cyber Monday. For the remainder of the season, Best Buy spent less than $900,000.

So, if you’re looking to compete with this electronic retailer, then you’re better off spending a majority of your budget closer to Christmas.


General Nutrition Corporation (GNC)

We hear about New Year’s resolutions all the time, and a majority of them are about getting in shape. If you’re looking to compete with GNC, you’ll need to spend at least $1.7 million during the holidays.

In 2016, GNC spent a total of $1.6 million on digital ads. They allocated $1.5 million of the total $1.6 million on desktop display advertising, and (also significant) spent $895,500 on Dec. 30 alone. GNC unanimously ranked in the top spot for all advertisers in the fitness and weight loss category, doubling the ad budget of Weight Watchers and Bodybuilding.com.

GNC focused almost half of its entire budget buying ads on MSN.com and generated nearly 70% of total impressions on the site. AOL.com captured 28% of GNC’s ad spend, while Muscleandfitness.com took 6%. 



Finally, Amazon reigned as the biggest digital advertiser during the 2016 holiday season. If you want to keep up with Amazon, prepare to dig deep into those pockets and spend at least $900,000 every day from Nov. 1 – Jan. 1. 

Amazon ranked as the top holiday advertiser in 2016, spending more than $58.9 million. Unlike GNC and Best Buy, Amazon spread its budget throughout the season. Data from our ad intelligence platform shows that the online retailer kicked off their holiday campaigns five days before Thanksgiving, spending almost $2.4 million of their total budget. 

However, that wasn’t the most Amazon spent in one day. Exactly one week before Christmas, Amazon spent $3.8 million on digital ads, generating nearly 500 million impressions on Dec. 18 alone.

When it comes to ad placement, YouTube accounted for almost 50% of Amazon’s total budget at $29 million. And the decision paid off; YouTube earned close to $2 billion of the total 5.7 billion impressions during the select period.

Amazon reported $134 billion in revenue during 2016. Unless your company generates more, it’s going to be difficult to compete with Amazon. Procter & Gamble had the second-highest spend on digital ads during the holidays at $43.3 million, spending almost $2 million on impressions from Amazon alone.

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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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