Direct-to-consumer isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it has plenty of room to grow in both market share and advertising spend.
Earlier this year, we highlighted just how much advertising investment across TV, digital, and print has grown for DTC brands. From 2014 to 2018, ad spend grew by 50 percent.
That growth is still going strong. From unique household names like 23andMe to niche home goods brands like Touch of Modern, major DTC players are still spending big to expand their piece of the pie.
MediaRadar found that 800 DTC brands have advertised across online, TV, and print media in 2019 so far. DTC ad spend is up 15 percent compared to the same time last year.
But who are the top advertisers — and what does their advertising look like?
By now, SmileDirectClub has made a name for itself as an industry leader in the relatively nascent teledentistry industry. The popularity didn’t come out of nowhere; the DTC teeth straightening brand has spent heavily on advertising since it launched in 2014.
This year alone, SmileDirectClub has spent over $150 million across all media.
Working with everything from OOH creatives to programmatic display ads, SmileDirectClub even has a large in-house agency to support its efforts.
SmileDirectClub has held the top spot in DTC advertising for quite awhile — but that status may change in the near future. Fortune reports that a disappointing IPO and restricting California bill may stymie growth moving forward.
Something between a marketplace and a dropshipping home goods brand, Wayfair has spent heavily on advertising as it looks to compete directly with Amazon.
Wayfair has spent over $100 million on advertising in 2019, placing ads ubiquitously if not judiciously. “Wayfair and its colorful pinwheel logo are seemingly everywhere these days: on boxes being opened by Bobby Berk in the most recent season of Queer Eye, hovering next to photos of your middle school friends’ kids in Facebook sidebar ads,” writes Cheryl Wischhover at Vox.
Outside of customer growth, and to support all this spending, Wayfair has also added a new revenue stream in sponsored products.
Walmart-owned Jet.com has spent over $100 million on advertising this year as it continues to focus on growth over profitability.
The high level of spending is slightly confounding given Walmart’s announcement that it will fold the startup eCommerce platform into its own eCommerce offerings in the near future.
“Over time, Jet morphed into a brand with a reputation of reaching younger, more affluent urbanites – not an existing fit with Walmart, but a potentially complementary one that could help Walmart grow beyond its core,” writes Stepehn Kraus at Search Engine Watch.
Time will tell how this fit affects ad spend.
Genealogy site Ancestry.com has spent over $50 million in 2019 as it seeks to hold its own against newcomers like 23andMe.
Despite facing backlash for a controversial video ad earlier this year, the site has seen an elevated presence across TV, online video and display ads as it expands its marketing mix.
“I keep hearing this debate around ‘brand’ versus ‘performance’. In my opinion, there’s no debate. You need to be able to do both,” Ancestroy CMO Vineet Mehra told Beet.tv. “You’re going to see more and more of our spend in video going into addressable TV, mid funnel digital video, which can solve a lot of the same problems we’ve tried to solve on TV, but in much more attributable, addressable ways.”
Trying to stand out in a crowded apparel DTC market, UNTUCKit has spent over $25 million on advertising in 2019.
While their advertising has spanned everything from print media to national TV, the brand has also made good use of ad tech to maximize their ROI. “Untuckit partnered with measurement and optimization firm TVSquared to measure its TV spots daily and optimize its campaigns regularly,” reports Chris Kelly at MarketingDive.