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Top DTC Brands Are Spending $120M+ Programmatically

Top DTC Brands Are Spending $120M+ Programmatically

Earlier this year, we looked at the top DTC advertisers for 2018 and 2019. Beyond the actual ad spend, MediaRadar data revealed that DTC ad spend is highly concentrated in the top 10 percent of spenders. 

Looking at programmatic ad spend for DTC brands reveals something strikingly similar: the top spenders are buying exponentially more programmatic ads than those further down the list. SmileDirectClub, for example, has spent 25 times more on programmatic advertising than HelloFresh even though both are nearly household names by this point.

On average, the top DTC programmatic advertisers spent just over 64 percent of their digital ad spend on programmatic placements. Here’s how programmatic spending has taken shape within the direct-to-consumer market this year. 

Check out our blog post with ad sales tips for selling to the DTC market!


Though not the first instance of DTC success, SmileDirectClub is a high-level example of just how well the DTC model can work. Focused on teeth straightening, SmileDirectClub has spent over $100 million on advertising across digital, print and TV media in the past year. Over two-thirds of their advertising budget is programmatic, totalling over $55 million. 

The company also just went public, which raised $1.35 billion in September. Lauren Debter at Forbes writes that most of the company’s $75 million in 2018 losses were due to marketing spend across social media, television and billboards. It seems 2019 will maintain that trend.

Walmart-owned has spent nearly $30 million on programmatic advertising, totaling just over 60 percent of its advertising budget. 

After its acquisition by Walmart, the eCommerce site showed some signs of scaling back and refocusing on Walmart’s online presence — but the advertising doesn’t seem to have slowed.

This time last year, refocused its messaging from budget-friendly to urban-focused. The site’s products got new images and the site started offering 3-hour delivery for NYC residents. The changes “illustrate how the retailer sees Jet as its vehicle to lure more free-spending urban shoppers, who typically eschew Walmart because of its down-market reputation,” according to AdAge


With a B2B audience spanning every niche and size, Squarespace now hosts well over a million websites. The website builder has spent over $100 million on digital and TV ads this past year, with nearly $20 million going towards programmatic ads. 

A good portion of its digital spend has most likely gone into pushing its new campaign built around the tagline, “A website makes it real.” Earlier this year the brand sat out the Superbowl, freeing up a good amount of advertising budget for more digital, programmatic ads. 

DTC Brands With $1-5M in Programmatic Ad Spend

After Squarespace, programmatic ad spend by dollar amount falls dramatically. While many smaller DTC brands also place an emphasis on programmatic advertising, they may not have the total budget to keep up with the major players. These are the seven ‘runners up’ in programmatic ad spend, in terms of both dollar amount and percent of their digital ad spend:

  • Purple | Over $4 million | 43%
  • Bonobos | Over $3 million | 90%
  • Brilliant Earth | Over $3 million | 79%
  • Wayfair | Over $2.5 million | 21%
  • HelloFresh | Over $2 million | 47%
  • Loom & Leaf | Nearly $2 million | 81%