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Pathmatics Blog

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Which Retailers Spent the Most on Digital?

December 07 2016 by Jordan Kramer
black_friday_cyber_monday_shopping.jpgWe thought last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday figures were big, but 2016 went even bigger. Earning the title of the “Largest Online Sales Day In History,” Cyber Monday raked in over $3.39B. Black Friday also exceeded expectations, going over the $3B mark for the first time in history, almost beating out Monday’s record-breaking numbers with $3.34B in sales. What does this mean for advertisers? They’re spending more, too

According to AdRoll, digital advertisers spent 17.9% more this year on Black Friday compared to last year. Retail was the top advertising category for the week of November 21st to November 28th, 2016 across desktop, mobile+tablet, and video channels. Read on to see the top five spenders for the Retail category, and how they were buying on digital.

Best Buy Co., Inc.

Famous for their Black Friday doorbuster deals, Best Buy led the Retail category for the holiday week spending over $15M on digital advertising. Increasing their budget by over $6M when compared to 2015’s spend, 89% of that went to desktop/display creatives. Consistent with their usual buying strategy, over ninety percent of their digital spend  during the holiday week was on direct deals.
On Black Friday, Best Buy’s desktop impressions spiked over nine times their thirty day average. If you were online looking for Black Friday deals, they were trying to target you. They also upped their unique display creatives from 279 in 2015, to 1,615 in 2016. Here's a look at their digital spend share by device type for the week of Thanksgiving:
best_buy_black_friday_cyber_monday.pngSource: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 11/21/16-11/28/16.

Kohl’s Illinois Inc.

The large retailer actually decreased their spend this year to $6M, from the nearly $10M spent during the week of Black Friday in 2015. The decrease was a result of the brand going all in on Yahoo!'s homepage. In 2015, the site consumed just over half - 58% - of Kohl’s digital spend for the holiday week. This year, the brand spent the same amount on Yahoo! as 2015, except it represented 95% of their total spend. 
Kohl’s digital impressions spiked over sixteen times their thirty day average on November 22nd, 2016, costing them $1.5M on that day alone. Last year 89% of Kohl’s spend went to desktop/display, compared to 60% of this year’s spend. This gave share to video, increasing from 2% of their digital spend in 2015, to 31% in 2016. 
Ad creatives also got a modern refresh this year:
KohlsIllinoisInc._Creative_All (5).jpeg
Source: Pathmatics US Desktop Data. 


Target also decreased their digital spend during the 2016 Black Friday week, shelling out only $5.5M to last year’s $10.4M. Taking a play from Kohl’s book, Target placed a heavier weight on their top site: YouTube. From Monday, November 21st to Monday, November 28th, 75% of Target’s site spend share went to YouTube. During the same time last year, YouTube earned only 61% of the brand’s budget. With YouTube as their top site, direct buys were also their preferred buying method representing 93% of their budget.
On Thanksgiving Day, Target saw their largest impression spike of the week at nine times their thirty day average. The YouTube homepage placement below was the cause for the spike, earning them over 218M impressions. The creative ran until Black Friday and was their top digital investment of the week, beating out all of their other creatives by spend and impression volume.
Source: Pathmatics US Desktop Data, 11/21/16-11/28/16.


Amazon.com was the 4th top Retail ad spender during the week of Thanksgiving, and fifth overall, raking out $5.4M on digital. Compared to their 2015 spend for the same time frame, the giant e-retailer spent over five times more and released almost twice as many creatives. Video was the largest channel for Amazon, consuming 74% of their total digital spend for the week. Desktop followed with 24%, and mobile+tablet trailed with 2% of the brand’s spend.
Their top creative was a video ad for the Echo Dot product, their hands-free, voice-controlled device to power Alexa. The humorous creative goes through a series of well-known holiday blunders, from running out of tape for wrapping presents, to the gingerbread house melting all over your floor. The creative was first seen on November 15th and is still currently running on top site YouTube, targeting the Get Movies, Strength Camp, and RayWilliamJohnson channels. 

Source: Pathmatics US Video Data, 11/21/16-11/28/16.

eBay, Inc.

Rounding out the top five Retail spenders for the week, eBay spent just over $3.1M on digital advertising. With a strong focus on display, the brand spent 83% of their budget on desktop/display creatives and went entirely direct to publisher. AOL was a huge target for the brand, raking in 94% of the brand’s spend across desktop, mobile, and video. 
Creatives encouraged possible prospects to peruse their inventory for gifting, claiming that “The Gift They’re Waiting for is Waiting on eBay.” Another display creative, released on November 23rd - also the day prior to Thanksgiving - promoted early Black Friday deals for the impatient and eager online crowd. The 23rd was also the date of their largest impression spike, hitting almost eleven times their thirty day average. The campaign was paired with one of their three video creatives released during the week, promoting “gifts that get the reaction you’re hoping for.” 
Source: Pathmatics US Desktop Data, 11/21/16-11/28/16.

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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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