A year ago this month, I took over the role of Ads Manager here at gap intelligence. During my time in this role, I’ve been able to get a behind-the-scenes look at advertisements (ads) for all of the categories that we track. I’ve noticed some interesting trends, such as the fact that the number of ads for appliances completely dwarfs the numbers observed across the other categories, and how certain holidays or events correspond to a huge jump in ad volumes for particular categories. But the main thing that is embedded in my brain, and will likely never go away, is the massive number of ads that are released for Black Friday.
At gap intelligence, our data specialists translate the large volume of ads into singular rows of data, calling out granular details down to the page number that the ad was placed. To gain a deeper understanding and a different perspective, I translated the thousands of Excel data rows into visual charts.
Total Ad Overview – (Appliances = 41%)
To analyze a full year’s worth of advertising data, I downloaded all of the ads that we collected from the week beginning August 13, 2017 through the week ending August 11, 2018. This includes print and online circulars, as well as online banner ads, from the full gap intelligence retail panel, which includes over 50 retailers and retail.com sites. Over this time period, we collected a total of 67,864 ads. Of those, an astounding 28,768, or 41%, were dedicated to major appliances (refrigerators, ranges, laundry, OTR microwaves, dishwashers, and most recently cooktops & wall ovens). The next most heavily advertised category observed by count of ads was TVs with 7,328 ads – just short of 11%. That being said, our other 14 categories combined accounted for just under half of all ads during that time period.
In an effort to provide greater context, I thought it would be interesting to look into the weeks that account for the highest counts of advertising data for several different categories and determine what holidays or seasons correlate with a spike in advertisements. As I alluded to above, every category saw a significant jump during Black Friday 2017, but what about some of the other times of the year?
You can see in the chart below, there are 5 significant spikes observed in appliance ad counts, each one corresponding with major holidays. The biggest uptick in ad counts is attributed to Black Friday with 1,496 ads.
(Perspective: The average number of appliance ads for the 51 weeks of the year not including Black Friday is 535)
1. Week 25 6/24/18 – The week before 4th of July – 934 ads
2. Week 34 8/27/18 – The week before Labor Day weekend – 931 ads
3. Week 20 5/20/18 – The week before Memorial Day – 895 ads
4. Week 6 2/11/18 – The week before President’s Day – 865 ads
Christine Edwards, gap’s Home Appliance Analyst, described why these five holiday periods are such big players for appliance ads. She noted, “Manufacturers and retailers not only significantly increase their dedicated ad volume during US holiday weeks, but they also capitalize on the weeks leading up to and following. For example, Labor Day promotions are not just effective during the week of September 02, but the promotions will start on August 23 and hold strong through September 12, 2018. US holidays have long been popular for larger ticket purchases, such as cars, mattresses, and major appliances. Early in the year, manufacturers and retailers utilize President’s Day to promote brand-new model launches. Throughout the year, such as during Memorial Day and Labor Day, the sales events allow for sales driving discounts. And lastly towards the end of the year, Labor Day and Black Friday can be utilized for clearing excess inventory and discounting prior year models.”
For TVs, the chart below shows that in addition to Black Friday, the category also saw a significant uptick in ads during three additional weeks. Those four particular weeks are the only ones in which there were over 200 ads.
(Perspective: The average number of TV ads for the 51 weeks of the year not including Black Friday is 135)
1. Week 45 11/12/17 – The week before Thanksgiving and Black Friday – 256 ads
2. Week 47 11/26/17 – The week after Black Friday and the week of Cyber Monday – 213 ads
3. Week 34 8/27/18 – The week before Labor Day weekend – 209 ads
4. Week 4 1/28/18 – The week before the Super Bowl – 205 ads
TV Analyst Deidre Kennedy explained that “Black Friday TV deals have been a mainstay of the shopping ‘holiday’ for many years. The other peak time periods have a lot to do with the yearly cycle of TV models. Early in the year retailers are trying to clear out previous year's models to make room for the new ones so the Super Bowl is a perfect reason to promote TV sales and sell through old inventory. Labor Day comes at the end of the summer during a quiet period for the TV market and is a way to lift sales during the months before the holidays.”
While we saw some higher than normal weeks for smartphone ads as well, it is interesting to note that the peak weeks were consecutively observed during the holiday season of Black Friday through Christmas of 2017. Only three weeks other than Black Friday reflect an excess of 100 smartphone ads and those were the weeks that directly followed Black Friday.
(Perspective: The average number of smartphone ads for the 51 weeks of the year not including Black Friday is nearly 80)
1. Week 47 11/26/2017 – Holiday Season – 101 ads
2. Week 48 12/3/2017 – Holiday Season – 110 ads
3. Week 49 12/10/2017 – Holiday Season – 104 ads
Not surprisingly, the following week of 12/17/2017, the week prior to Christmas was next on the list with 97 total ads.
When asked to elaborate on this trend, Smartphone Analyst Scott Peterson explained, “prepaid and unlocked ads appeal to holiday gift-givers as low-priced and easy-to-gift items, while postpaid carriers tend to market towards families and lucrative multi-line accounts by offering BOGO deals based on adding a line or upgrading the whole family.”
For Printers there were four observed weeks outside of Black Friday where ad counts exceeded 140. Two of these weeks can be attributed to the Back to School season, one week for each year.
(Perspective: The average number of printer ads for the 51 weeks of the year not including Black Friday is 121)
1. Week 32 8/13/2017 – Back-to-School 2017 – 143 ads
2. Week 50 12/17/2017 – Holiday Season – 143 ads
3. Week 17 4/29/2018 – Phase Out – 160 ads
4. Week 30 7/29/2018 – Back-to-School 2018 – 148 ads
Printer Analyst Valerie Alde-Hayman described these peaks by saying, “July and August typically see spikes in advertising activity as manufacturers aim to drive demand during the back-to-school (BTS) shopping season. Black Friday and the weeks leading up to the holidays are also historically known to see increases in advertising activity. Additionally, during both BTS and the holidays, it is common for manufacturers (especially HP) to introduce burst SKUs that are based on existing configurations and sell at aggressively low prices.”
As for the April spike in ads, Alde-Hayman mentioned, “The unexpected jump in advertising activity the week of April 29 can primarily be attributed to manufacturers looking to promote phase-out products.”
Most people might think of Black Friday and think, “oh that’s still so far off, it’s not for another two and half months”. Well here at gap intelligence, we know that when it comes to Black Friday ads, things get started early. Last year, we recorded 3,269 ads during the week of Black Friday (November 19-25). During the rest of the year, on average, we collect 1,261 total weekly ads. As you can see, the number of ads that were released specifically for the week of Black Friday 2017 was nearly three times the average number of ads that we had for the other 51 weeks in the past year.
Again, it should be noted that the number of appliance ads essentially dwarfs the numbers for the other categories. The highest number of ads for any category other than appliances during Black Friday was TVs with 450 ads. This still doesn’t even match the average number of weekly ads (535) for appliances.
Clearly there are some very interesting tendencies when it comes to looking at our ads data. It was certainly enlightening to look at the data and confirm a lot of what I had thought about these trends. I think we’d better not waste any more time in getting ourselves amped up for Black Friday. Clearly the gray bars in the above chart show that we are going to have our work cut out for us. I think the appliance team might want to plan on bringing their turkey, stuffing, and sleeping bags to the office in order to have time to confirm the roughly 1,500 ads that they will likely see.
For more than 15 years, gap intelligence has served manufacturers and sellers by providing world-class services monitoring, reporting, and analyzing the 4Ps: prices, promotions, placements, and products. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 619-574-1100 to learn more.