Walmart, Target and Verizon Have Spent the Most on Holiday TV Ads So Far This Year

Holiday ad spending is up 13.7 percent over 2015

Headshot of Jason Lynch

Holiday TV ad spending is off to a strong start this year, with brands shelling out $869.7 million on holiday-themed national ads so far in 2016. That's an increase of 13.7 percent over the same period last year.

Holiday ad spending has jumped $105.2 million in 2016, going from $764.5 million last year to $869.7 million, according to data from TV ad tracking company The company tracked holiday-related TV advertising from when those ads first began airing on Sept. 4 through to Nov. 28, Cyber Monday.

While spending was up double-digits, the number of brands utilizing national advertising for holiday ads dropped slightly from 255 brands in 2015 to 247 this year. The number of holiday spots aired jumped 6.7 percent, from 230,152 to 245,499.

Walmart led the pack again with an estimated $66.4 million in holiday ad spending, though that number was down slightly from $67.6 million last year. Target, which almost doubled its holiday ad spending from last year, came in second with $49.7 million.

Another brand significantly increasing its holiday spending this year was Google, which jumped 336 percent, from $1.7 million in 2015 to $5.7 million this year. That went to its new Google Home smart home device, not its Pixel phone, whose ads were handled by Verizon.

Coca-Cola increased its holiday ad spending by more than 250 percent, jumping from $3 million last year to $7.6 million in 2016.

At the other end of the spectrum, Best Buy's national holiday ad spend fell 36 percent, from $28 million to $18 million.

The holiday ad with the largest 2016 spend so far has been Apple's "Frankie's Holiday" ad, the brand's 2016 holiday commercial starring Brad Garrett as Frankenstein. While the two-minute spot is just a week and a half old, Apple has run it in 20 high-profile spots, for an estimated total spend of $12.7 million.

Verizon's pre-Black Friday ad came in second with an estimated spend of $11.8 million over 766 airings.

These were the top brand spenders on holiday TV ads this year from Sept. 4 to Nov. 28:

Walmart, $66.4 million

Target, $49.7 million

Verizon, $25.3 million

JCPenney, $24.8 million

The Home Depot, $23.9 million

Kohl's, $21.6 million

Ford, $20.9 million

Best Buy, $18.2 million

Honda, $17.6 million

Volkswagen, $15.6 million

Here was the holiday ad spending breakdown between Sept. 6 and Nov. 30 of 2015:

Walmart, $67.6 million

Best Buy, $28.3 million

Target, $27.1 million

Chevrolet, $20.2 million

Volkswagen, $18.9 million

Kohl's, $16.5 million

Nissan, $16.1 million

Honda, $15.7 million

Audi, $15.7 million

Apple, $15.2 million also conducted a deeper drive into the two-week period around Thanksgiving (Nov. 16-29) and found that Walmart spent $38 million, appearing on TV screens 1.6 billion times. The brand targeted NFL football and the Soul Train Awards.

Target spent $27.6 million during the same two-week period, appearing on TV screens 1.3 billion times. It targeted NFL football and late-night shows for many of those spots.

Overall, the department store industry spent $148.9 million on national ads during that time, generating 7.9 billion TV ad impressions.


During that two-week period, online and auction websites spent $59.3 million on holiday ads for 3.4 billion TV ad impressions. The wireless industry shelled out $129.8 million for 4.1 billion TV ad impressions, and the movie industry put up $101.6 million for 5.9 billion TV ad impressions.

Computer and tablet ad spending during those two weeks declined 45 percent from last year, from $85 million to $49 million.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.