Survey: Amazon Edges Walmart in Holiday Consumer Spending Plans

Advertising Benchmark Index Finds Retail Giants Tied in Ad Effectiveness

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Walmart still has more than five times Amazon's sales overall, but the e-commerce giant is poised to edge out earth's biggest retailer in holiday sales this year, at least according to consumer survey data from Advertising Benchmark Index.

Amazon edges Walmart 21% to 20% in ABX's holiday "Share of Wallet" calculation, which is based on an online survey of more than 4,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 and over in the contiguous 48 states from Nov. 1 to Nov. 23. Respondents were asked to say how much they plan to spend for the holidays at each of 10 major retailers and a blanket "all others" classification, both online and offline.

Best Buy came in third at 11%, with other named retailers in the 4% to 8% range and "all other" capturing 10%.

The survey also found people plan to spend around 60% of their holiday dollars offline and 40% online, and pick up around 14% of those online purchases in stores rather than have them shipped.

Respondents were geographically balanced within four U.S. Census regions, representative of the U.S. population by income and education, and had not participated in other market research over the past 90 days, according to ABX.

In terms of advertising effectiveness across TV, online, print and radio, Walmart and Amazon tied at 106 in the index, which is based on consumer responses aimed at measuring likeability, brand and message awareness and whether ads generate brand reputation or a call to action. Indeed, almost all the major retailers were clustered in the 96 to 106 range, which, with data precision of plus or minus 2.5 points, puts them mainly at parity. Kmart and JC Penney were the only two retailers whose ads broke significantly out of the range with ratings of 111 and 114 respectively, said ABX President Gary Getto. Kmart's ads are most improved among major retailers, up 20 points from last year's holiday period, according to ABX.

Overall, retailers are deploying 9% more online ad executions so far this holiday season compared to last, while cutting radio, print and newspaper insert executions 2%-3%.

While Amazon appears to be spending big on TV this year, Walmart has significantly stepped up TrueView advertising on YouTube, according to separate data from iSpot.tv and Pixability.

Retailers overall have significantly stepped up their TrueView advertising this year. Top retail brands more than tripled their spending on YouTube to $31 million last quarter and are projected to roughly triple their spending in the fourth quarter to $41 million, according to Pixability.

Credit: Advertising Benchmark Index

Walmart leads the pack in TrueView spending with $17.6 million, according to Pixability estimates, compared to $9.6 million for Amazon and $5.8 million for Apple. But Apple last quarter got as many organic or unpaid views for its videos as Walmart got in paid views, with similar performance so far this quarter. Pixability Chief Data Scientist John Baker attributes that to Apple's highly engaged fan base.

That spending remains dwarfed by TV, however, even for Amazon, which is spending big on the medium to the tune of nearly $31 million since the start of the third quarter, according to iSpot.tv, which had no comparable data on Amazon TV spending last year. Walmart has spent $155 million on TV since the start of the third quarter, per iSpot, up around 7% vs. the year-ago period.