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Biggest Retail Brands Buying Through AdTech

Biggest Retail Brands Buying Through AdTech

This year’s back-to-school season represents more than a return to classes—it’s a return to friends, a life outside of the home and a feeling of ‘normalcy.’

With this significant milestone, retail brands started advertising earlier and spending more this year. According to our data, programmatic spend for retail brands between July and August is up 190% from last year. 

Here is a brief look at some highlights from this back-to-school season and the top programmatic retail spenders.

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Brands capitalize on back-to-school excitement

After more than a year of doing school online, most American students and parents will be full of emotion to start in-person classes again. And marketers are pulling on that for their creative messaging. 

American Eagle is running a campaign highlighting friends being together again. The “Future Together. Jeans are Forever” ad features actors Caleb McLaughlin and Jenna Ortega, as well as major social media influencers. In addition to the TV ad campaign, the popular retailer will be taking advantage of Snapchat’s AR try-on features and creating a Bitmoji clothing line.

Kohl’s is running a sentimental ad showing a dad dropping off his son at school on his first day, with the son saying, “Have a great first day Dad.” This points to how the back-to-school season is affecting the entire family as we transition back to pre-pandemic routines. 

“Pretty much every kid in America is going to be back to in-person school,” explained Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer of Kohl’s to AdAge. “What was an uncertain environment last year, now we know and people are excited about it.”

And Target is keeping their creative particularly upbeat with its “But First, Target” ad.

Target ad creative

We’re not only seeing new themes in back-to-school creative. Companies have been innovative with how they spend and the formats they use. DoorDash is giving away 5,000 full backpacks as part of a campaign bringing attention to the fact that they now deliver goods other than food. And General Mills is using mobile rewards to encourage eCommerce purchases.

As brands transition back into more predictable patterns, we’re seeing them blend previous messaging (traditional supplies and clothes are in demand compared to computers and tech solutions from last year). But the pandemic has still left its mark. Many brands are pouring their resources into social, mobile and other forms of digital. 

Who are the biggest programmatic spenders?

MediaRadar Insights

Overall programmatic retail ad spend in July and August totals $1.32bn. As mentioned previously, this is up 190% from 2020, when spend was $454.1mm in the same period.

The top back-to-school advertisers include: Amazon, Target, WalMart, Gap and Kohl’s.

Walmart ad creative
Khol's ad creative
Gap ad creative

For more specific breakdowns of these advertisers’ spending, see their advertiser profiles (linked above).

As retail and eCommerce continue adjusting, we’ll keep you updated on the latest trends. 

For more updates like this, stay tuned. Subscribe to our blog for more updates on coronavirus and its mark on the economy.