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Target's TV Spots Win the Most Back-to-School Eyeballs

By Published on .

Target's new ad campaign focused on everyday essentials.
Target's new ad campaign focused on everyday essentials. Credit: Target
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TV may be the most expensive, but it may not be the most effective way of reaching the back-to-school crowd, one study showed.

As the second-most crucial shopping season, back-to-school time attracts big marketing dollars. Last year, the period saw $251 million in advertising spending, up 12% from 2015, according to Kantar Media.

For the period between June and early August, however, parents paid 8% less attention to back-to-school ads on TV than non-parents, according to a study from TVision Insights, which measures consumers' attention to TV. Parents may be more distracted than non-parents, says Dan Schiffman, chief revenue officer and co-founder of TVision.

Target, which for the first time ran a dedicated Hispanic back-to-school ad along with its English spot, received the most attention among viewers in the study, TVision found. The retailer, which spent $112.9 million on measured media in the U.S. from July to September last year, according to Kantar Media, worked with Deutsch on its current campaign "Ready.Set.Prep!"

"Target ads were poppy, colorful, simple, with lots of kids," Schiffman says. By his analysis, Target received 29% share of attention -- a percentage of the total amount of attention paid to back-to-school ads in the research. That compares with Walmart's 17.6%. The larger retailer ran mostly 30-second ads, longer than Target's 15-second spots, and devoted its campaign to more of a storyline.

"In an age of limited attention, where catchy titles, top 'X' lists and edgy headlines drive our engagement, Target is harnessing that, relying on shorter ads, brighter colors, catchy graphics and a simple storyline to get the audience to look at and retain glued to the screen," says Schiffman. Last year, Walmart spent $103.9 million on measured media in the U.S. from July to September, according to Kantar Media.

In its a separate report analyzing school shopping behavior, YouGov BrandIndex found that ad awareness is down from last year for most top retailers. While Walmart, Target and Old Navy, which are all running robust back-to-school campaigns, are still seeing "value perception" and "purchase consideration" from parents, the majority of other retailers running campaigns are not.

"It's telling that many retailers have had reasonable success getting across their value proposition, but somehow can't get parents to consider them any more over the next store," says Ted Marzilli, YouGov Brand Index's CEO. "This issue goes beyond value -- it's somehow creating enough unique marketing and merchandise, getting through in the right channels, to somehow capture minds and wallets."

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