- Retailers spent an estimated $600 million on advertising in July across national TV, print and online — a 6% decrease year-over-year, as more advertisers shift their spend away from print and TV, according to an analysis by MediaRadar provided to Marketing Dive. One-third of the total spend came from seven advertisers, including Target, Walmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Amazon, Ikea and Best Buy, which made up more than $210 million in spend, a 1% year-over-year increase.
- Ikea increased its spend across TV, print and online by 46%, while Amazon increased its total spend by 42% and Target by 8%. Walmart reduced its total spend by 16%, Best Buy decreased its by 11% and Kohl’s spend saw a 3% drop. Macy’s spend remained flat.
- By channel, Ikea and Amazon increased their TV spend by more than 65%. Online saw the most growth, with Best Buy, Kohl’s and Ikea more than doubling their spend compared to last year. Best Buy invested nearly all of its budget in digital channels this year versus last year, when the retailer ran ads across all three channels. Walmart ran ads on Snapchat targeting college students, and Amazon promoted Amazon Teen and ran a Prime Day lens on the platform.
The findings show that Ikea has aggressively increased its ad spend for TV and online as it looks to compete for back-to-school furniture sales. Amazon had the second biggest increase in ad spend, suggesting the retailer came out swinging to drive sales for July's Prime Day sales event as other retailers increasingly time their own sales promote to compete for customers.
Retailers shifting their back-to-school marketing spend to digital platforms follows a broader industry trend. Eighty-two percent of marketers said they planned to increased their digital spending by an average of 49% over the next year, according to Nielsen’s new CMO Report 2018. Search and social were the top digital channels for 73% of marketers. However, marketers aren’t discounting traditional ad formats, as Amazon and Ikea demonstrated by increasing their TV ad spend for back-to-school. In the Nielsen report, 51% of marketers ranked TV as the most important traditional channel.
MediaRadar's report focuses on July ad spend as an early indicator of trends in back-to-school marketing, reflecting research showing back-to-school shopping is starting earlier. Savvy retailers are also boosting their marketing in July to better compete against Amazon's high-volume Prime Day sales. Marketers are kicking off their back-to-school campaigns earlier and earlier to compete with Amazon’s Prime Day, which moved back-to-school shopping forward by nearly a month in 2017, according to Cardlytics research. Running back-to-school campaigns in July is in line with a 2017 study by MediaMath showing that consumers usually start shopping just after the Fourth of July, with a peak in early August, and a decline from July 22 to August 5.
Back-to-school shopping accounts for nearly 20% of all non-holiday retail spend, per Cardlytics. In-store shopping still dominates back-to-school shopping, but consumers also rely on retailers’ sites to compare prices and look for deals, according to recent Deloitte research.