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Walmart dominated the airwaves during November

Walmart chief marketing and merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton told investors during an October meeting that the retailer would have the largest share of voice during the holiday season and that was certainly evident during November, according to data released this week from Kantar Media Ad Intelligence and Placed.

Walmart spent $57 million on television ads November 3-27 which enabled it to attract 34% of all visits to retail stores from November 28 through December 1. The investment was worth it as Walmart was able to achieve the lowest cost per visitor share point of any retailer at $1.7 million. And even though it spend roughly twice as much on TVs ads as the next closest retailer (Target) it had three times the traffic of its rival. Target spent an estimated $28 million on advertising November 3-7 which netted it nearly 12% of retail traffic during Thanksgiving weekend, giving it a cost per visitor share point of $2.4 million.

Kantar and Place arrived at those figures by merging their respective data on advertising expenditures and in-store visitor counts to create the cost per visitor share point metric as a means to evaluate and compare results achieved by the top national retail chains over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. The firms tabulated retailers' ad spending on broadcast and cable TV for the period of November 3 – 27 and integrated that information with data Placed gathered from its opt-in panel of smartphone-enabled consumers to track their locations and the retail stores they visited from Thanksgiving Day through the following Sunday.

While Walmart and Target fared well, at the other end of the spectrum, was Sears which spent $13.7 million per visitor share point, more than eight times the rate that Walmart achieved. Home Depot and Lowes spent nearly identical amounts on TV advertising leading up to Thanksgiving weekend, but Home Depot had a sizable advantage in visitors to its stores. As a result, it cost Home Depot $2.9 million per visitor share point versus $4 million for Lowes.

Consumer electronics are always a popular item on consumer’s shopping list for Black Friday deals and this is reflected in the figures for Best Buy. It had a 6.2% share of all visitors over the holiday weekend, third best among all retailers nationwide. With a $25 million TV budget pre-Thanksgiving, Best Buy spent $4 million per share point. Radio Shack, with smaller stores and a less abundant selection of electronics products compared to Best Buy, spent $9 million on TV advertising and had a 0.8% share of total visitors, for an effective rate of $11.3 million per visitor share point.

Home Depot, Sears and Walmart each started Black Friday ad promotions further in advance than competitors and by Sunday November 24, each of these retailers were promoting Black Friday sales events in their TV commercials. But in the four days preceding Thanksgiving, the proportion of TV spending mentioning Black Friday ranged from more than 90% at Macy’s, Sears and Walmart to less than 20% at Lowes, Kmart and Target.