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Pathmatics Blog
Top Advertiser Reports |


January's Top Digital Advertisers

March 16 2017 by Jordan Kramer
January Top Advertisers Cover Slide.jpg
January Top Advertisers Cover Slide.jpg

January Top Advertisers Cover Slide.jpg

New Year, new taxes to file! In January, brands such as TurboTax and TaxACTbegan their digital campaigns to kick off tax season, each attacking separate device types to gain brand awareness. TurboTax invested the most on digital out of the tax sector, coming in as the top digital spender overall across desktop, mobile, desktop video, and mobile video. The gloves are officially off as tax software brands battle it out until early April. What’s even more interesting is the spend patterns we identified below from the top tax spender.

Feature films had a big month on digital, with blockbusters such as XXX: Return of Xander Cage Movie turning to display advertising to ramp up awareness (and ticket sales) for the premiere. If you weren’t at the movies, travel brands were looking to target you on mobile video, ramping up presence on the device-type. Over $858M was spent on digital by the top 500 advertisers across devices, see which advertisers were spending the most in our exclusive January Top Advertisers Report, and read on for the top highlights.

January’s Blockbusters Incorporate Cross-Channel Strategies Into Plans  

Three films released in January allocated a large portion of their advertising budgets to digital during the month. A Dog’s Purpose, XXX: Return of Xander Cage Movie, and the Rings Movie all invested digital dollars across desktop, mobile, and video (desktop and mobile pre-roll). Distributed by Universal Pictures, the film A Dog’s Purpose was the fifth top spending digital advertiser overall during the month dolling out nearly $18M. The film put 67% of its budget into desktop video advertising, and 23% towards mobile video placements, with the remainder going mostly to display. 
Vin Diesel’s new film installment in the XXX franchise dropped $7.3M on digital, focusing more on desktop/display advertising and less on video advertising. The Rings Movie also preferred display, investing 69% of their $7.8M budget on desktop/display placements. What’s interesting is when the films were spending their digital dollars. The Rings Movie had their largest spike in January one week prior to the the release of the movie that launched on February 3rd. The film took out a YouTube homepage takeover with an in-banner video creative encouraging consumers to get their tickets before the movie hit theaters. XXX was released on January 20th, yet their largest digital spend spike was five days prior on January 15th. The film also took out a YouTube homepage takeover with an in-banner video creative featuring Vin Diesel and Ice Cube. Both films were distributed by Paramount, which may explain the similar digital strategies.
The largest digital spend spike for A Dog’s Purpose was the film’s release date on January 27th. That day, the movie bought a page skin placement on IMDB, placed specific creatives on Fandango with calls-to-actions to buy tickets, and placed pre-roll desktop video creatives on YouTube’s homepage. Which strategy worked better? Make the largest push a week prior to the release date, or wait until the actual release to drop your large campaigns? One could say it depends on if the movie is a sequel or not, as awareness campaigns would differ. For these three movies, getting consumers to think ahead to make movie plans had the largest pay-off. So far, XXX has box office sales of $337.8M, A Dog’s Purpose has grossed just over $102 internationally, and the Rings Movie has raked in nearly $80M. Whether consumers were excited to see the return of XXX, or the movie had stronger ad campaigns, the film is clearly a success for the franchise.
Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 1/1/17-1/31/17. 

TurboTax Spends Its Budget on the Weekends

But then again, don’t we all? TurboTax made a big push for brand awareness after the New Year. Starting the second weekend of January, the brand upped their spend on each weekend, while decreasing spend during the week. The biggest spikes during the week came on Sundays, which must be the one day a week that consumers are more likely to put aside a couple hours to do their taxes. The largest spike overall was on January 30th, the week after the government began accepting tax returns. This was also the time that TurboTax shifted some of their budget into video advertising, releasing a pre-roll video creative on YouTube’s homepage on January 29th. 


Why spend money during the week on campaigns that don’t convert? TurboTax agrees. Being the agile digital advertiser they are, the brand advertised on sports related sites consistently during the month - think ESPN, NBA, & CBS Sports. Considering this was the month leading up to the Super Bowl, and in the thick of basketball season, consumers do check those sites regularly throughout the week. The larger campaigns targeting Yahoo, MSN, Amazon, and AOL, had their spend down throughout the week until the weekend rolled around. TurboTax clearly has a very involved media planning team ensuring the efficiencies of all of their ad buys in order to strategize a digital execution such as this. 

Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 1/1/17-1/31/17.

Travel Brands Move Towards Mobile Video

Mobile devices account for more than half of YouTube’s total daily views, making mobile video an appealing channel for any advertiser to target. Royal Caribbean Cruises sees the value of mobile video, so much so that they invested 53% of their digital budget during the month of January to placements on YouTube. Creatives illustrated a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out), with amazing shots of beautiful people enjoying activities all over the world. “Stop wondering, start wandering” flashes across the postcard-esque backdrops, before a promotion pops up to save money on your future cruise. Mobile video creatives yielded over 66.3M impressions for Royal Caribbean, on only eight creatives with a total investment of just under $2M. 

They weren’t the only cruise line to capitalize on mobile video, Carnival Cruise Line was the 25th top spending brand on the device-type. The brand dished out $186K on mobile video advertising, accounting for 4% of their total digital spend for the month. Hilton Worldwide is another travel brand investing heavily in video advertising, with in-stream video across desktop and mobile taking up 64% of their total budget. Fourteen percent of that went to mobile video specifically during the month of January.


Download the Full Report

Be more agile in reacting to the current climate of the digital ecosystem with real-time spend and impression data for all of your competitors, clients, or even your own campaigns. Chances are, your competitor is already using a digital intelligence solution to gain insight on your moves, now it’s your turn to take the lead. Download the full January Top Advertisers Report here.

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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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