By now everyone’s children, from kindergarten to college, are back in school. Parents are likely celebrating for a number of reasons, but one is that the madness of back-to-school shopping is now behind them. The school list is increasingly high-tech for even younger students spanning beyond your typical pencil and crayons.

At gap intelligence, advertisements are a big part of our clients’ back-to-school season strategy, and we have an exciting new tool to help them evaluate both Online Banner and Retail Circular Advertisements. We recently added the Advertisement Image Card and Tool to our easy-to-navigate Dashboard.

This tool enables users to quickly access and interact with gap’s archive of advertising images and search by:

  • Advertisement Type (Retail Circular or Online Banner Advertisement)
  • Merchant
  • Advertisement Location
  • Brand
  • Category
  • Product
  • Date Range

Screenshot of search options

With this resource, clients can narrow or expand their search results and download actual advertisement images and corresponding data to evaluate size, placement, and messaging around promoted offers. With this efficient tool, it’s easy to drill into categories and merchants of importance.

After carefully looking through many of the ads during the 2019 Back-to-School (BTS) season, I found that the messages do vary! Some Retail Circular Advertisements are aimed at parents, offering budget-friendly pricing, deals on top tech products, easy shopping and even perks so moms and dads can get something for themselves. For the kids, it’s all about being cool and proud of their new gear.

Who was hyping the deal?

Best Buy was offering student discounts on laptops, with an additional $130 to $150 off sale prices.

Best Buy student laptop discounts

Best Buy also wanted to make school easier with $250 student discounts on tablets. An adjacent ad for a wireless router is a reminder to consider all the components of a successful study area.

Best Buy $250 discount on tablets

Best Buy didn’t stop at a wireless router reminder; the retailer also promoted printers to print those essays and term papers. Best Buy’s Easy Replenish program is featured in the ad as well, so late night emergency runs for ink or toner can be avoided.

Best Buy printer and ink offers


Who made it easy?

Did I mention that the gap intelligence Advertisement Image Card & Tool also includes Online Banner Advertisements? Office Depot utilized an Online Banner Advertisement to appeal to parents with links to their child’s school-specific list. The functionality was illustrated on a mobile device, as the retailer made one-click shopping easy and attempted to capture the whole back-to-school wallet. Customers selected their school, picked the correct class, and could order the whole list or just part of it, taking the guesswork out of exactly what items are needed.

Office Depot School list banner ad

Office Depot School List with a Click

Office Depot mobile functionality

Who appealed to the parents?

For the parents who are feeling left out, Sam’s Club had a solution with special event pricing on tech gear including a tablet and notebook. Over at Target, customers got 15% off a future shopping trip with a $10 school supplies purchase. The small print in the ad states that some exclusions apply to the 15% off coupon.

Sam's Club even pricing for big kids - adults

Target 15% on future shopping trip


Who had a message for the students?

Office Depot’s tagline was Back to School Proud, encouraging students to feel good about their gear.

Office Depot back to school proud

Sam’s Club promoted laptops for study, but also some alternative uses that are more appealing to today’s youth.

Sams club laptop promotions - surf, stream, study

While advertisement images are important in evaluating holiday and seasonal efforts, each week of the year is a new battle to see whose advertisements had the most payoff in sales lift for the dollars spent. gap intelligence’s new Advertisement Images Card & Tool will be important in promotion planning, as well as in verifying that products appear in the circular or banner ad as intended. Manufacturers invest heavily in ad execution and must ensure they get what they pay for.

Do you need to keep an eye on Online Banner and Retail Circular Advertisements? Are you keeping stacks of paper Retail Circulars “filed” in your office? Let us keep that archive digitally – always there on demand and easily searchable. Reach out to sales@gapintelligence for more information.


For more than 16 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 or call us at 619-574-1100 to learn more.