Comparing Black Friday’s Top Digital Sellers and Advertisers

black_friday_shopping_header Black Friday is the most important day of the year for retailers and manufacturers. According to Adobe Digital Insights, shoppers spent a record-breaking $3.34 billion online on Black Friday this year. We were curious to see if the top-selling products as reported by Adobe were also the top advertised products, so we dove into Pathmatics data to find out. The results might surprise you. Who were the Top Toy and Electronics Advertisers and Sellers? The five best-selling toys this year were LEGO Creator sets, Razor electric scooters, Nerf guns, DJI Phantom drones, and the Barbie Dreamhouse. The top five electronic products were Apple iPads, Samsung 4K TVs, Apple MacBook Air, LG TVs, and Microsoft Xbox. We investigated the advertiser spend for these manufacturers in Pathmatics and compared them to the top advertisers during the two-week period leading up to and including Black Friday weekend. 201612-10373-web-black-friday-blog-post-graphic-2 Of all nine companies represented in the top ten best-selling items, only Microsoft appeared in Pathmatic’s top ten companies for digital advertising spend. Retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Amazon also cracked the top ten in spend, but the rest of the advertisers spanned several categories from movies to makeup, including Merck, Gap, Procter & Gamble, Hulu, Moana, and Revlon. The three major retailers in the top ten all advertised for a combination of Black Friday specials and specific products, which complicates determining the correlation between online advertisers and online sales. Thus, it is possible that some of the top sellers did receive an advertising boost from retailers. 201612-10373-web-black-friday-blog-post-graphic-1 How Much Did These Advertisers Spend? The top-selling toy manufacturers spent surprisingly little in online advertising. Only LEGO Group made Pathmatics’ top 500 advertisers list, coming in at 210, with an estimated spend of $347,000. The other four manufacturers spent an estimated average of $34,000 during the Black Friday run-up. This might seem strange, but it makes sense given the FTC restrictions around advertising to children online. Additionally, children 0-11, the age group most likely to play with toys, is not online as often as children and teens older than 12. According to eMarketer, 92% of children under 12 watch live or time-shifted TV, but only 26% access the Internet via a computer and 35% access the Internet via a multi-media device. To reach children, TV is still the dominant medium, although this is slowly changing. The eMarketer research also shows that the U.S. games and toy industry spend is down overall from last year but that TV spending declined by 18% while digital spending only declined by 7.5%. Three of the top four electronics advertisers spent an estimated six figures or more—$7,791,000 for Microsoft, $1,818,100 for Samsung, and $604,000 for LG. Samsung and LG were the 35th and 118th overall top-spending advertisers leading up to Thanksgiving. Unlike toy makers, electronics companies would want to promote their wares online— since they are selling products that consumers will use to access the Internet. However, Apple is a big outlier. They only spent an estimated $6,900 in digital advertising yet had two of the top-selling products this year. Apple is known for their outdoor and television advertising campaigns, which likely explains why they spent so little on digital advertising. It also has a devoted fan following, and the iPad and MacBook are perennially popular products. In contrast, Microsoft spent millions online to promote various products such as Office software, cloud computing, Xbox consoles, and laptops. Microsoft’s brand loyalty is not nearly as strong as Apple’s, hence the need to promote its products substantially with advertising. Different Strategies for Different Industries Goodway Group’s focus is on digital advertising, but a successful Black Friday advertising strategy should encompass all channels to reach consumers. Additionally, what works for one industry doesn’t necessarily work for another. The toy industry faces some obvious challenges with advertising online. However, there are opportunities for toy advertisers to start expanding their strategies. Contextual advertising is a great way to reach children online and stay within FTC rules, and advertisers can also target parents with a variety of tactics. The consumer electronics industry, on the other hand, is already advertising heavily online as part of its holiday shopping media mix, which we would recommend for any retail advertiser.