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Pathmatics Blog
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The Advertising Race Continues: Nike vs. Under Armour

June 04 2016 by Jordan Kramer

A little while ago, we dove into the wearable tech category and looked at how the digital advertising strategies of competitors Fitbit and Jawbone compared. The rapidly growing wearable category has stepped and cycled its way into 20% of US households, with another 15% planning on purchasing one within the next year. Nike’s FuelBand, one of the first on the market, was discontinued 2 years ago in favor of directing efforts toward fitness software. This signaled what, in retrospect, seemed to be only a misstep in the wearable category as their presence in US households has doubled in the last year alone.
Under Armour has made a large push in both the fitness software category, acquiring MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo; and the wearable category announcing its ‘Healthbox’ suite at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Their aggressive approach calls into question Nike’s decision to exit the market, and what lies ahead for health tech. Both huge players in the fitness game, Nike and Under Armour have grown their brand beyond their initial product offerings and transcended into all encompassing health & fitness companies. Lets take a look at how the two compare across channels, buying partners and top sites.

What Channels Are They Using?

In the past year, Nike has put the majority of their digital dollars towards desktop - spending just north of $6M. The athletic brand released 415 unique desktop creatives on an average of 79 sites per day. Video was their second top channel, spending $1.6M over the last twelve months, and releasing 88 unique video creatives across an average of 5 sites per day. Mobile+tablet spend approached, but didn’t break the million dollar mark for the past year, but issued the most creatives, with 303 unique mobile creatives released across an average of 27 sites per day.
Under Armour also ran creatives on desktop, mobile+tablet and video over the past twelve months, focusing most of their budgets on desktop. $4.8M was spent by the fitness brand on desktop advertising, releasing 656 unique creatives across an average of 54 sites per day. Like Nike, video was the second top channel for the brand, however their spend was much higher, recording just above $2.5M. Under Armour released 48 unique video creatives across an average of 2 sites per day. Mobile+tablet inched past $500K over the past year, but also had the most creatives with 399.
Source: Pathmatics U.S. Desktop Data, 6/3/15-6/1/16.

How Are They Buying?

While both brands favored direct buys across channels, Nike spent more of their spend share on direct placements than Under Armour. 93% of Nike’s total desktop spend over the last twelve months was on direct buys, followed by a small percentage of buys through ad network partners. On mobile+tablet, 85% of Nike’s spend share went towards direct buys with Google AdX + AdSense ranking as their top ad network partner with 10% of spend share. Rounding out the channels, 84% of video ad spend for Nike was direct.
Under Armour spent 78% of their desktop dollars on direct buys and allocated 16% of their desktop spend share to top ad network partner Google AdX + AdSense. Direct buys accounted for 79% of Under Armour’s mobile+tablet spend, followed again by top partner Google AdX + AdSense with 11% of the fitness company’s spend. While Nike maintained the highest percentage of direct buys on desktop, for Under Armour it was video, accounting for 94% of Under Armour’s direct video buys, with the remaining spend share appropriated to programmatic. 

What Sites Are They Targeting?

Here’s a look at the top five sites for both companies across channels, with a breakdown of how the impressions were purchased for each site.
Nike Under Armour
1. espn.go.com (99% direct, 1% indirect) 1. espn.go.com (95% direct, 5% indirect)
2. stack.com (89% direct, 11% indirect) 2. youtube.com (1% direct, 99% indirect)
3. bleacherreport.com (98% direct, 2% indirect) 3. nfl.com (100% direct)
4. nfl.com (100% direct) 4. forums.rivals.com (83% direct, 17% indirect)
5. milesplit.com (100% direct) 5. si.com (97% direct, 3% indirect)
Nike Under Armour
1. espn.go.com (90% direct, 10% indirect) 1. ticketmaster.com (94% direct, 6% indirect)
2. nfl.com (100% direct) 2. rivals.com (97% direct, 3% indirect)
3. complex.com (100% indirect) 3. nfl.com (100% indirect)
4. milesplit.com (100% direct) 4. amazon.com (63% direct, 37% indirect)
5. popsugar.com (82% direct, 18% indirect) 5. espn.go.com (90% direct, 10% indirect)
Nike Under Armour
1. hulu.com (100% direct) 1. espn.go.com (100% direct)
2. espn.go.com (100% direct) 2. nhl.com (100% direct)
3. complex.com (100% indirect) 3. youtube.com (62% direct, 38% indirect)
4. youtube.com (48% direct, 52% indirect) 4. complex.com (100% indirect)
5. cbssports.com (100% indirect) 5. nfl.com (100% direct)
Source: Pathmatics U.S. Data, 6/3/15-6/1/16. Percentages based on known impressions.
Are you loyal to one of the two brands? Are you a part of their target site audience? Let us know what you think about Nike & Under Armour's strategies.
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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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