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Pathmatics Blog

Retail's Top Direct Advertisers for Q1

June 01 2016 by Jordan Kramer

In the 'age of programmatic', are brands even still buying direct? The answer is yes. Many of the top retail brands are still using a direct-centric buying strategy, even on desktop. The guarantees that direct buys offer still carry heavy value for brands and agency buyers, so much so that some brands are spending nearly 100% of their desktop spend on direct buys. While this strategy doesn’t work for every advertiser, many sites are reaping the benefits. Espn.go.com was one of the more popular direct sites for retail advertisers in Q1, where 82% of retail impressions were purchased direct.
These brands were the top direct advertisers from the retail category on US desktop during Q1. See how much of their spend share was allocated to direct buys, and the top sites they were targeting. Download our entire Q1 Retail Advertising Buying Report detailing the top retail advertisers by impression volume across channels, here.

10. The Finish Line, Inc.

The sports retailer released 96 unique desktop creatives on an average of 15 sites per day during the First Quarter of 2016. 86% of their total Q1 desktop spend was on direct buys, which translated into 60% of their overall desktop impression share. Sports Illustrated (si.com) was the top site, both overall and direct, for the brand, accounting for 81% of total site spend. Askmen.com (Ziff Davis, Inc.), fansided.com, rap-up.com, and ksl.com rounded out the top five direct sites for Finish Line, by impression volume.

9. Kohl's Illinois, Inc.

57% of Kohl’s Q1 desktop spend were primarily direct buys, followed by 29% of spend going through ad networks. Over 1400 unique desktop creatives were released on an average of 163 sites per day, with the majority of creatives being HTML5. The top direct site, and overall site, by impression volume was abcnews.go.com, also with 23% of Kohl’s site spend share. Msn.com, abc.go.com, people.com, and mywedding.com rounded out the top five direct sites.

8. Macy's

The mega department store retailer had a fairly split buying strategy during Q1, allocating 38% of spend to direct buys, 34% to ad networks, and 27% to DSPs. Desktop creatives were detected on an average of 426 sites per day, led by top direct site iheart.com. The following top 5 direct sites were weddingbee.com, dailymail.co.uk, espn.go.com, and teenvogue.com.

7. Adidas

81% of athletic brand Adidas’ desktop spend during Q1 was on direct buys, representing a huge portion of their overall buying strategy. 168 unique desktop creatives ran on an average 41 sites per day during Q1, with the top direct and overall site being espn.go.com. The other top direct sites for Adidas, by impression volume, were bleacherreport.com, nba.com, goal.com, and popsugar.com.

6. Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc.

Direct buys represented nearly all of the Dick’s Sporting Goods’ US desktop spend during Q1 - at 99%. The top site, by far, was espn.go.com, which was targeted 100% directly by the brand, and accounted for 76% of total site spend share. 106 unique desktop creatives were released during Q1, across an average of 14 sites per day. The following top direct sites by impression volume were espnfc.usfivethirtyeight.com, espnfc.com, and people.com.

5. Under Armour

Under Armour released 198 creatives during Q1, across an average of 48 sites per day. 86% of their desktop spend was spent on direct buys. Led by top direct site espn.go.com, the popular site for retailers represented 48% of the brand’s desktop site spend share. Nfl.com, SI.com, popsugar.com, and wikia.com rounded out the top five direct sites for the athletic gear behemoth. 

4. Eastbay

Direct buys accounted for a large portion - 91% - of Eastbay’s desktop ad spend during Q1. The top overall and direct site for the retailer was stack.com, with 88% of total desktop site spend share. Hitting an average of 102 sites per day, the brand also directly targeted top sites wunderground.comnexusmods.com, drudgereport.com, and milesplit.com.


3. eBay Inc.

The third top direct retail advertiser by impression volume, 75% of the online giant’s desktop ad spend was on direct buys. eBay released 687 unique desktop creatives across an average of 205 sites per day. Suddenlink.net was the top overall and direct site for eBay, grabbing 38% of overall desktop site spend share. Huffingtonpost.com, home.suddenlink.net, sports.yahoo.com, and espn.go.com followed as top direct sites by impression volume.



2. Walgreen Co.

92% of Walgreen Co.’s spend was on direct buys during Q1, splitting the remainder between DSPs and ad networks. Healthline.com was the top direct and overall site by impression volume, also reeling in 38% of the brand’s desktop spend. 645 unique desktop creatives were detected on an average of 121 sites per day. Following Healthline.com as top direct sites were about.com, webmd.comabout.com/health, and aarp.com.

1. Amazon.com

Coming in as the number one direct retail advertiser for the First Quarter of 2016 was Amazon.com. 74% of the online monster’s desktop spend in Q1 was on direct buys, releasing a staggering 1,300 unique desktop creatives across an average of 297 sites per day. With a third of Amazon.com’s desktop site spend share, Yahoo.com was the top direct site, and overall site, by a longshot. CNN.com, the second top direct site, accounted for only 6% of total site spend share in comparison. Rounding out the top five direct sites, by impression volume, were goodreads.com, boxofficemojo.com, and sidereal.com



Source: Spend and impression estimates from Pathmatics US Desktop Data, 1/1/16-3/31/16. 
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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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