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Retailers Start Holiday Ads Early, Dedicate $6B to Black Friday-Cyber Monday

2018 retail holiday ad spend
With November fast approaching, online shoppers are starting to think about buying gifts, either for themselves or their friends and family. And retailers are ready.

Emarketer reports that retailers are investing a total of $23 billion in digital advertising this year. Naturally, the bulk of it will be spent during the holidays, with a quarter of budgets dedicated to Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, according to our new survey of 100 digital advertising executives at large U.S. retailers.

Retail holiday ad spend

In terms of when holiday spending takes place: Our survey results proved that Christmas creep is real, with 34% of online retailers starting holiday advertising as early as August or September. By early November, 94% of retailers from our survey are running holiday ads.

2018 holiday ad spend

The vast majority of our survey respondents report that competition in mid-December is too high to prioritize advertising during that time. Thus, only 5% of retailers cite last minute shoppers (third week of December – Christmas day) as their most important audience.

The eye of the holiday ad storm is, of course, Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. Over that pivotal four days, retailers will spend 25% of their total digital ad budgets for the year. By eMarketer estimates, that’s nearly $6 billion spent in four days.

2018 holiday ad spend

Drilling down into that weekend, Black Friday is the unanimous king when it comes to digital ad spend. Despite Cyber Monday being dedicated to online sales, 63% of retailers report spending the most on Black Friday compared to the Saturday, Sunday or Monday that follow it.

One of the main takeaways from our survey data is that smart advertisers are spreading budgets out over the holiday shopping season as a way to generate additional sales during times when there may be less competition and lower CPMs.

Click below for an interactive presentation of all our Holiday Advertising survey data.

Holiday retailer ad spend