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Pathmatics Blog
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Q4's Top Digital Advertisers 2016

February 16 2017 by Jordan Kramer

Q4 Top Advertisers 2016.png

With the close of the Fourth Quarter, you may be experiencing the dreaded holiday hangover and a bit of a lighter wallet. But we're not the only ones, as many of the largest advertisers on digital feel our pain. The Fourth Quarter ended strong with over $1.8B spent on display advertising alone by the top 500 advertisers, up $228M from Q3. Auto and Retail made a strong showing with momentum from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and year-end holiday sales. Amazon opened their coffers to invest in their network of original shows and content, so much so that they were the top digital ad spender across desktop, mobile, and video for Q4. Google AdX + AdSense delivered the most impressions across channels, making them the top digital partner for the quarter. 

Download the full Q4 Top Advertisers Report.

Google AdX + AdSense wins as Q4's top digital partner, serving up 24% of all digital impressions by the top 500 advertisers

A trend we normally see as advertisers ramp up for the holidays, direct buys dominated digital in Q4. Getting rid of excess budget, wanting more control over holiday-time buys - whatever the reason, 80% of digital spend from the top 500 advertisers went to direct buys during Q4. While direct-to-publisher relationships tugged at the purse-strings, direct buys only yielded 43% of the overall impression share. Ad networks collected only 14% of spend across desktop, mobile, and video, but garnered 40% of the impression share.
Google AdX + AdSense continues to be the top digital partner, and in Q4 the ad network served up 24% of all digital impressions by the top 500 advertisers. Three times its share of spend, which was only 8%. The network took in nearly $340M during the quarter, resulting in 115B digital impressions.
Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 10/1/16-12/31/16. 

Amazon's strong video push in December helped catapult the e-commerce giant to the top ad spending spot for the Fourth Quarter across all digital

Amazon.com ended 2016 with a bang in terms of advertising spend, investing over $70M across digital, making them the Fourth Quarter’s top overall digital ad spender. With 64% of their budget going to desktop video placements, the e-commerce giant bet big on YouTube advertising to promote its line of original shows. Spend picked up in Q4 just before Black Friday, and continued to trend upward until December 18th - the brand’s largest day of the quarter.
December was the biggest month for the brand, consuming 57% of the Quarter’s spend. General Mills, Q3’s top advertising spender across digital, was no where to be seen in the rankings. The advertiser pulled back spend significantly during Q4 and focused the majority of their strategy on desktop video.
Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 10/1/16-12/31/16.

Auto leads as the top category by impression volume on desktop video, dropping the Food & Drink category to the third spot.

The Food & Drink category historically maintains front-runner status on video, led by General Mills, but as the brand pulled back spend in Q4, Auto was able to capture the top spot. Ford was the top auto spender on desktop video advertising in Q4, dishing out nearly $17M on the ad type. Toyota followed, spending approximately $16.5M on video placements, and Hyundai rounded out the top three spending $11.3M. Automakers are investing heavily into video advertising as all of the top three auto-advertisers on video put 50% or more of their Q4 digital ad budget towards the device type. 
Fueled by the popularity of YouTube, Auto buyers leaned heavily on direct deals during Q4, with 88% of desktop video spend going direct to publisher. YouTube was the leading site for the category on video, raking in over $62M from Auto-advertisers during the quarter and delivering 3.4B impressions. ESPN and CNN followed as the second and third top sites for Auto advertisers on video.
auto_top_video_advertisers.png Source: Pathmatics US Digital Data, 10/1/16-12/31/16.
For all of Q4's top cross-channel digital ad spenders, download the free report here. To get these insights daily, check out AdRoutes, our ad intelligence platform.

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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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