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Pathmatics Blog

Q4 Top Digital Advertisers

January 21 2016 by Jordan Kramer


With record-breaking Cyber Monday sales and the holiday season bringing big advertisers out to play, Q4 ended strong for many brands. We noticed a few trends emerge over the quarter, especially on desktop. Procter & Gamble took a big jump in impression share on U.S. desktop and continued to dominate video. Auto advertisers are still targeting consumers via desktop and mobile with Chevrolet and Nissan Dealer Associations leading the way.  We also saw a huge push from SlingTV in its first hoilday season to keep up with Hulu amongst other OTT and streaming products.

See below for the purchase channel breakdown of the top 500 desktop and video advertisers, as well as the top advertising categories and highlights.  Download all of Q4's top digital advertisers, including top direct advertisers, here.


Procter & Gamble Ramps Up Digital,
Climbs Desktop Rankings

Continuing their digital-first strategy, Procter & Gamble climbed 8 spots on our top ten desktop advertiser rankings from last quarter, closing out Q4 at #2. Adding to their late 2015 push, the consumer goods company surged in video as well, vaulting from the runner-up position in Q3, to our top video advertiser by impression volume in Q4.

What’s interesting is how they’re buying on desktop. Overall spend for the giant parent company is up over 3X compared to Q3, to the tune of $63M (Source: Pathmatics US Desktop Data, Excludes CoverGirl). Although their digital shift is clear, their purchasing strategy is not. P&G claims to be changing its business model and will be integrating automated buying, selling and distribution; however, the change doesn’t seem to have been implemented just yet as Direct purchases jumped from 55% in Q3 on US desktop to 82% in Q4, even climbing to 90% of the desktop impressions purchased during the month of December. Using Audience Science as their preferred partner across all devices (desktop, mobile, tablet, video), Procter & Gamble’s video strategy looks to be evenly spread at about half direct and half indirect.

How do you think their digital purchasing strategy will shift in 2016 as automated buying gains traction?

PandG_quarterly_spend_hires.pngSource: Pathmatics US Desktop Data.

Auto Advertisers Continue Targeting
Desktop and Mobile

Auto has been a popular trend throughout our recent data findings as we exited last year, overtaking the #1 desktop advertising category from Financial Services for the quarter, while similarly ranking #2 and #3 on mobile & video respectively.

Digging deeper into the strategies behind top auto advertisers, we broke down how Chevrolet (#7 top desktop advertiser*) and Nissan (#22 top desktop advertiser*) purchased impressions. Nissan spent roughly the same amount on desktop as Chevrolet during the quarter with primarily a direct-buy strategy (93% of desktop impressions). Chevrolet on the other hand, employed a split strategy, funneling 43% of its impressions through ad networks (Advertising.com was the preferred partner), 46% direct to publisher and 11% programmatically.

A great example is Forbes.com, which was targeted indirectly by Chevrolet and directly by Nissan (88%). Taking spend into account, Nissan spent significantly more - over 4X - on relatively the same amount of impressions, allowing Chevrolet to earn some serious bang for their buck by sticking to indirect buys.
Source: Pathmatics Q4 US Desktop Data.
While the argument can be made of premium inventory vs. long tail placement, another example can be seen on people.com.  Chevrolet went 100% indirect to people.com, while Nissan went 100% direct. Chevrolet did, however, spend slightly more than Nissan, capturing 81% of the impression share between the two. Below are screenshots of both advertisers on people.com and with Nissan section page banner ad and Chevrolet’s homepage placement above the fold. 
Which method (direct vs. indirect) are you in favor of?
Source: Pathmatics US Desktop Data.

SlingTV Battles Hulu Closing Out 2015

2015 was definitely the year binge-watchers zeroed into the comforting glow of their flat-screens, as prime competitors SlingTV and Hulu butted heads for dominance over the space. With SlingTV rolling out Dish’s $20/mo streaming service at the beginning of 2015, it’s been on a steady climb ever since. Spending over $33M on desktop during Q4, SlingTV purchased 62% of desktop impressions directly, 19% via DSP, 17% through ad networks and 2% split between Exchange and SSP, a strategy that earned them the #8 desktop advertiser ranking.
Hulu did not make our overall top 10 desktop advertiser list, but held onto the #4 direct desktop advertiser spot, with 91% of impressions purchased through direct buys.  Comparing the two services, here’s another example of direct vs. indirect strategy, as both advertisers released the same amount of creatives, however, Hulu spent slightly more going direct while SlingTV swept up more impressions through indirect. We’ll see what happens this year as SlingTV capitalizes on its live streaming angle and signs more deals with major broadcast channels, like ESPN.
Source: Pathmatics Q4 US Desktop Data.
Let us know your thoughts on the future of programmatic buying - is it still an issue of quality vs. quantity or are you having better experiences getting more premium-level placements?  How do you plan to strategize your digital ad spend for 2016?
*By impression volume. **All trademarks & copyrights property of their respective owners.

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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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