January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Holiday online retail advertising off to a slower start

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Although holiday online advertising activity this season is nearly four times what it was last year, online advertisers are off to a slower start, according to a report released today by AdRelevance, a Jupiter Media Metrix company. The AdRelevance Report reveals that while the number of retailers advertising online this season (2,313) almost quadrupled from 1999 (657), ad impressions (the number of times an ad is rendered for viewing; one impression is equivalent to one opportunity to see an ad) are growing more slowely, total median impressions per retailer are down and the number of holiday-themed ads in October 2000 was less than half of what it was last year. Jupiter Research, in a separate announcement today, revealed that 64% of e-retailers are making online media their top priority for advertising campaigns this season. Key findings from the latest AdRelevance Holiday 2000 Intelligence Report, which tracks and analyzes all holiday-related online advertising from October 2000 through mid-November 2000, include:
--Online holiday ad impressions and spending by retailers did not post gains above last year until the second week of November 2000.
--Due to the significant increase in total retail advertisers, total median online ad impressions per retailer were down 82% in October 2000 -- falling from 130,000 impressions in 1999 to 23,000 this season.
--Only five of last year's top 10 holiday advertisers show up in this season's rankings: Ubid, Yahoo!, eBay, Barnes & NobleÕs bn.com and Amazon.com.
--Although their rankings are reversed, books, music & movies (No.1 this year) and auctions (No. 2 this year) are still the top two most promoted retail products on the web. Unseating toys and office equipment and supplies in this year's top 10 advertised retail products are gifts and party supplies and flowers. Although Amazon.com once again leads the holiday online advertising charge in 2000, strong competition is riding on its heals. Barnesandnoble.com, which ranked six last year among top holiday online retail advertisers, increased its share of the online ad pie by 9% -- becoming the second largest online holiday advertiser. Announcing it would start online advertising early this season to encourage early shoppers, BestBuy.com posted one of the strongest online ad gains, becoming the number eight advertiser this year. Last year, BestBuy.com did not run an online campaign until late December.

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