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How Total Spend by U.S. Advertisers Has Changed, Over 20 Years

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How Total Spend by U.S. Advertisers Has Changed, Over 20 Years

Total Spend by U.S. Advertisers, Over 20 Years

With an advertising economy worth $239 billion in 2019, it’s safe to say that the U.S. is home to some of the biggest advertising spenders on the planet.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the major upheaval of advertising spend, and it is unlikely to recover for some time.

The graphic above uses data from Ad Age’s Leading National Advertisers 2020 which measures U.S. advertising spend each year, and ranks 100 national advertisers by their total spend in 2019.

Let’s take a look at the brands with the biggest budgets.

2019’s Biggest Advertising Spenders

Much of the top 10 biggest advertising spenders are in the telecommunications industry, but it is retail giant Amazon that tops the list with an advertising spend of almost $7 billion.

In fact, Amazon spent an eye-watering $21,000 per minute on advertising and promotion in 2019, making them undeniably the largest advertising spender in America.

Explore the 100 biggest advertisers in 2019 below:

RankCompanyTotal U.S. Ad Spend 2019Industry
#1Amazon$6.9BRetail
#2Comcast Corp.$6.1BEntertainment
#3AT&T$5.5BTelecommunications
#4Procter & Gamble$4.3BConsumer Goods
#5Walt Disney$3.1BEntertainment
#6Alphabet$3.1BTechnology
#7Verizon Communications$3.1BTelecommunications
#8Charter Communications$3.0BTelecommunications
#9American Express$3.0BFinancial Services
#10General Motors$3.0BAutomotive
#11JPMorgan Chase$2.8BFinancial Services
#12Walmart$2.7BRetail
#13L’Oréal$2.3BBeauty
#14T-Mobile U.S.$2.3BTelecommunications
#15Berkshire Hathaway$2.3BVarious
#16Nestlé$2.3BFood & Beverages
#17Ford$2.3BAutomotive
#18Expedia Group$2.2BTravel & Hospitality
#19Capital One Financial$2.2BFinancial Services
#20Fiat Chrysler Automobiles$2.0BAutomotive
#21Samsung$2.0BElectronics
#22Pfizer$1.9BPharmaceuticals
#23Progressive$1.8BInsurance
#24PepsiCo$1.7BFood & Beverages
#25Bank of America$1.7BFinancial Services
#26LVMH$1.6BRetail
#27Target$1.6BRetail
#28McDonald’s$1.6BFood & Beverages
#29Booking Holdings$1.6BTravel & Hospitality
#30GlaxoSmithKline$1.5BPharmaceuticals
#31Johnson & Johnson$1.5BPharmaceuticals
#32Anheuser-Busch InBev$1.5BFood & Beverages
#33Toyota$1.5BAutomotive
#34Merck & Co.$1.5BLogistics
#35Nike$1.5BRetail
#36AbbVie$1.4BPharmaceuticals
#37Honda$1.4BAutomotive
#38Unilever$1.4BConsumer Goods
#39ViacomCBS$1.4BEntertainment
#40Macy’s$1.3BRetail
#41State Farm$1.2BInsurance
#42Kohl’s$1.2BRetail
#43Home Depot$1.1BRetail
#44Wells Fargo$1.1BFinancial Services
#45Yum Brands$1.1BFood & Beverages
#46Netflix$1.1BEntertainment
#47U.S. Government$1.0BGovernment
#48Estée Lauder$994MBeauty
#49Nissan$990MAutomotive
#50Wayfair$932MRetail
#51Diageo$918MFood & Beverages
#52Sanofi$889MPharmaceuticals
#53Discover Financial Services$883MFinancial Services
#54Mars$880MFood & Beverages
#55Eli Lilly$864MPharmaceuticals
#56Kroger$854MRetail
#57Allstate$854MInsurance
#58Molson Coors$822MFood & Beverages
#59Apple$818MTechnology
#60Microsoft$816MTechnology
#61Coca-Cola$816MFood & Beverages
#62DISH Network$815MEntertainment
#63Lowe’s$811MRetail
#64Kraft Heinz$782MFood & Beverages
#65Volkswagen$780MAutomotive
#66IAC$775MEntertainment
#67Best Buy$772MRetail
#68Intuit$760MTechnology
#69Uber$756MTechnology
#70Constellation Brands$749MFood & Beverages
#71Sony$746MTechnology
#72Cox Enterprises$715MEntertainment
#73Citigroup$691MFinancial Services
#74Adidas$688MConsumer Goods
#75LendingTree$688MFinancial Services
#76Amgen$685MTechnology
#77Gilead Services$683MPharmaceuticals
#78Facebook$671MTechnology
#79Lions Gate$668MEntertainment
#80Marriott International$667MTravel & Hospitality
#81EssilorLuxottica$665MConsumer Goods
#82J.C. Penney$644MRetail
#83Liberty Mutual$640MInsurance
#84Daimler$640MAutomotive
#85Hyundai$627MAutomotive
#86Walgreens$621MRetail
#87Dell$618MTechnology
#88IBM$606MTechnology
#89Reckitt Benckiser$593MConsumer Goods
#90Keurig Dr Pepper$593MFood & Beverages
#91Restaurant Brands International$589MFood & Beverages
#92Inspire Brands$589MFood & Beverages
#93Clorox$581MConsumer Goods
#94Novartis$579MPharmaceuticals
#95eBay$562MRetail
#96Gap$562MRetail
#97Takeda$541MPharmaceuticals
#98Kia Motors$534MAutomotive
#99Coty$531MBeauty
#100Subarau$532MAutomotive

The report offers several ways of looking at this data—for example, when looking at highest spend by medium, Procter & Gamble comes out on top for traditional media spend like broadcast and cable TV.

On the digital front, Expedia Group is the biggest spender on desktop search, while Amazon tops the list for internet display ads.

The Rise and Fall of Advertising Spend

Interestingly, changes in advertising spend tend to fall closely in step with broader economic growth. In fact, for every 1% increase in U.S. GDP, there is a 4.4% rise of advertising that occurs in tandem.

The same phenomenon can be seen among the biggest advertising spenders in the country. Since 2000, spend has seen both promising growth, and drastic declines. Unsurprisingly, the Great Recession resulted in the largest drop in spend ever recorded, and now it looks as though history may be repeating itself.

Total advertising spend in the U.S. is estimated this year to see a brutal decline of almost 13% and is unlikely to return to previous levels for a number of years.

The COVID-19 Gut Punch

To say that the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted consumer behavior would be an understatement, and perhaps the most notable change is how they now consume content.

With more people staying safe indoors, there is less need for traditional media formats such as out-of-home advertising. As a result, online media is taking its place, as an increase in spend for this format shows.

But despite marketers trying to optimize their media strategy or stripping back their budget entirely, many governments across the world are ramping up their spend on advertising to promote public health messages—or in the case of the U.S., to canvass.

The Saving Grace?

Even though advertising spend is expected to nosedive by almost 13% in 2020, this figure excludes political advertising. When taking that into account, the decline becomes a slightly more manageable 7.6%

Moreover, according to industry research firm Kantar, advertising spend for the 2020 U.S. election is estimated to reach $7 billion—the same as Amazon’s 2019 spend—making it the most expensive election of all time.

Can political advertising be the key to the advertising industry bouncing back again?

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Technology

Visualized: A Breakdown of Amazon’s Revenue Model

Here’s a look at the different parts of Amazon’s revenue model, and how much money each business segment makes.

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Visualized: A Breakdown of Amazon’s Revenue Model

Amazon has evolved into more than just an online store. While ecommerce makes up a significant portion of the company’s overall sales, its diverse revenue model generates billions through various business segments.

This visualization provides an overview of the different parts that make up Amazon, showing each business unit’s net sales from June 2019 to 2020.

A Diverse Revenue Model

With a market cap of $1.7 trillion, Amazon is currently the most valuable retailer in the world. The company is expected to account for 4.6% of total U.S. retail sales by the end of 2020—but the tech giant is more than just a one-trick pony.

A key factor in the company’s success is its diversification into other areas. Here’s a breakdown of Amazon’s revenue mix:

Business SegmentNet Sales (June 2019 - 2020)
Online stores$163 B
Third-party selling services$63 B
Amazon Web Services$40 B
Subscription services$22 B
Physical stores$17 B
Other$17 B
Total Revenue$322 billion

While Amazon is truly more than an online store, it’s worth noting that online sales account for a significant amount of the company’s overall revenue mix. Over the period of June 2019 to 2020, product sales from Amazon’s website generated $163 billion, which is more than the company’s other business units combined.

A significant day for online sales is Prime Day, which has grown into a major shopping event comparable to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2020, Prime Day is projected to generate almost $10 billion in global revenue.

While ecommerce makes up a large portion of Amazon’s overall sales, there are many other segments that each generate billions in revenue to create immense value for the tech giant. For instance, enabling third-party sellers on the platform is the company’s second-largest unit in terms of net sales, racking up $63 billion over the course of a year.

This segment has shown tremendous growth over the last two decades. In 2018, it accounted for 58% of gross merchandise sales on Amazon, compared to just 3% in 2000. While third-party sellers technically outsold Amazon itself, the company still makes money through commission and shipping fees.

Amazon is Not Alone: Diversification is Common

Amazon isn’t the only major tech company to benefit from diverse revenue streams.

Other tech giants generate revenue through a range of products, services, and applications—for instance, while a healthy portion of Apple’s revenue comes from iPhone sales, the company captures 17% of revenue from a mix of services, ranging from Apple Pay to Apple Music. Microsoft is another example of this, considering it owns a wide range of hardware, cloud services, and platforms.

While there are several reasons to build a diverse business portfolio, a key benefit that comes from diversification is having a buffer against market crashes. This has proven to be particularly important in 2020, given the economic devastation caused by the global pandemic.

The Sum of its Parts

Despite varying levels of sales, each business unit brings unique value to Amazon.

For instance, while Amazon Web Services (AWS) falls behind online sales and third-party sellers in net sales, it’s one of the most profitable segments of the company. In the fourth quarter of 2019, more than half of Amazon’s operating income came from AWS.

In short, when looking at the many segments of Amazon, one thing is clear—the company is truly the sum of its parts.

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Ranked: The Top 100 Product Searches on Amazon

This graphic highlights the top product searches on Amazon in the U.S., providing a glimpse of what items American consumers are after.

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What Products are People Searching for on Amazon?

When it comes to searching for products online, a majority of U.S. shoppers go directly to Amazon. Thanks to this widespread use, product searches on Amazon provide interesting insights into current consumer behavior, including what shoppers have been focusing on in 2020.

Today’s chart uses data from Ahrefs to showcase Amazon’s top 100 U.S. product searches. We’ll also dive into the most popular categories, as well as top keyword searches on a global basis.

Top 100 Amazon Product Searches in the U.S.

Out of the top 100 product searches on Amazon, over half are for electronics.

Nintendo Switch is the most searched product keyword, with approximately one million monthly searches. This makes sense, considering the console’s recent surge in popularity—in March 2020, U.S. sales of the Nintendo Switch more than doubled compared to a year prior.

Here’s a look at the full ranking of all product keywords, by monthly search volume:

RankKeywordSearch VolumeCategory
1nintendo switch1,020,000Electronics
2laptop892,000Electronics
3airpods693,000Electronics
4headphones641,000Electronics
5wireless earbuds571,000Electronics
6ipad565,000Electronics
7game of thrones518,000Media
8fire stick506,000Electronics
9ssd496,000Electronics
10fitbit481,000Electronics
11kindle475,000Electronics
12tv471,000Electronics
13air fryer456,000Home
14bluetooth headphones447,000Electronics
15roku445,000Electronics
16toilet paper422,000Home
17external hard drive412,000Electronics
18instant pot404,000Home
19tablet403,000Electronics
20micro sd card402,000Electronics
21gaming chair392,000Home
22apple watch388,000Electronics
23monitor385,000Electronics
24earbuds376,000Electronics
25ps4370,000Electronics
26alexa362,000Electronics
27paper towels357,000Home
28desk349,000Home
29office chair332,000Home
30ring doorbell322,000Home
31chromebook319,000Electronics
32weighted blanket319,000Home
33gift cards for amazon314,000Misc
34water bottle314,000Home
35backpack312,000Clothing
36hdmi cable306,000Electronics
37lego301,000Misc
38wireless mouse301,000Electronics
39mouse pad299,000Home
40iphone charger287,000Electronics
41bluetooth earbuds284,000Electronics
42hydro flask282,000Home
43echo dot277,000Electronics
44gaming mouse276,000Electronics
45gift card276,000Misc
46switch275,000Electronics
47printer272,000Electronics
48nintendo switch games270,000Electronics
49bluetooth speakers269,000Electronics
50keyboard269,000Electronics
51iphone262,000Electronics
52coffee261,000Food
53aa batteries257,000Misc
54ps4 controller257,000Electronics
55wireless headphones257,000Electronics
56mouse256,000Electronics
57shoes255,000Clothing
58shower curtain255,000Home
59amazon gift cards254,000Misc
60the boys253,000Media
61smart watch249,000Electronics
62cbd oil248,000Misc
63kindle fire247,000Electronics
64led strip lights247,000Electronics
65harry potter246,000Media
66pop socket243,000Misc
67sd card240,000Electronics
68ring238,000Misc
69xbox one controller238,000Electronics
70doctor who237,000Media
71microwave237,000Home
72usb c cable236,000Electronics
73good omens235,000Media
74gaming laptop232,000Electronics
75mattress232,000Home
76prime video231,000Media
77vacuum cleaner229,000Home
78hbo224,000Media
79iphone xr cases222,000Misc
80computer desk216,000Home
81protein powder216,000Food
82socks213,000Clothing
83avengers endgame211,000Media
84echo209,000Electronics
85books207,000Misc
86shoe rack205,000Home
87tv stand203,000Home
88yoga mat203,000Home
89aaa batteries202,000Misc
90computer monitor202,000Electronics
91gaming headset202,000Misc
92blender200,000Home
93dash cam197,000Electronics
94gaming pc197,000Electronics
95luggage196,000Home
96usb hub196,000Electronics
97camera195,000Electronics
98iphone 11 case195,000Misc
99pokemon195,000Media
100projector194,000Electronics

Two different Apple products make the top 10—Airpods and iPad. It’s interesting that Airpods and iPads have their own search term distinctive from their broader categories (wireless headphones and tablets), demonstrating Apple’s strong brand recognition in America.

Of course, Apple is also dominant in the personal tech market more broadly. For instance, iPhones make up 46% of the U.S. smartphone market by number of devices sold.

Top 100 Amazon Product Searches Globally

Like the U.S. top searches, Nintendo Switch comes in at number one worldwide, with over 2 million approximate monthly searches.

RankKeywordSearch VolumeCategory
1nintendo switch2,520,000Electronics
2laptop1,990,000Electronics
3ssd1,780,000Electronics
4kindle1,420,000Electronics
5ps41,420,000Electronics
6airpods1,350,000Electronics
7ipad1,290,000Electronics
8tablet1,150,000Electronics
9iphone1,140,000Electronics
10alexa1,120,000Electronics
11headphones1,110,000Electronics
12game of thrones1,040,000Media
13lego1,020,000Misc
14switch955,000Electronics
15fitbit910,000Electronics
16tv905,000Electronics
17harry potter859,000Media
18xiaomi836,000Electronics
19monitor795,000Electronics
20apple watch703,000Electronics
21iphone 7691,000Electronics
22wireless earbuds687,000Electronics
23iphone x670,000Electronics
24fire stick664,000Electronics
25bluetooth headphones655,000Electronics
26samsung611,000Electronics
27iphone 8606,000Electronics
28iphone xr606,000Electronics
29mouse577,000Electronics
30micro sd card576,000Electronics
31gaming chair574,000Home
32air fryer567,000Home
33echo dot560,000Electronics
34smart watch547,000Electronics
35smartphone545,000Electronics
36external hard drive526,000Electronics
37instant pot516,000Home
38roku514,000Electronics
39star wars512,000Media
40ps4 controller508,000Electronics
41water bottle507,000Home
42keyboard499,000Electronics
43chromebook491,000Electronics
44huawei490,000Electronics
45gaming mouse484,000Electronics
46pokemon483,000Media
47shoes479,000Clothing
48backpack473,000Clothing
49playstation 4472,000Electronics
50earbuds471,000Electronics
51echo467,000Electronics
52toilet paper467,000Home
53smartwatch461,000Electronics
54notebook459,000Electronics
55iphone 11454,000Electronics
56power bank454,000Electronics
57xbox one452,000Electronics
58wireless mouse450,000Electronics
59gaming pc449,000Electronics
60desk443,000Home
61office chair442,000Home
62mouse pad439,000Home
63redmi note 7433,000Electronics
64printer431,000Electronics
65chromecast430,000Electronics
66gaming laptop429,000Electronics
67hdmi cable422,000Electronics
68earphones421,000Electronics
69wireless headphones420,000Electronics
70drone415,000Electronics
71books408,000Misc
72funko pop406,000Misc
73nintendo switch games402,000Electronics
74amazon400,000Misc
75camera398,000Electronics
76gift card396,000Misc
77sd card396,000Electronics
78xbox one controller392,000Electronics
79ps4 games388,000Electronics
80rtx 2060387,000Electronics
81laptops385,000Electronics
82ring doorbell383,000Home
83ipad pro381,000Electronics
84ps4 pro378,000Electronics
85gopro375,000Electronics
86the boys375,000Media
87bluetooth earbuds369,000Electronics
88weighted blanket368,000Home
89windows 10368,000Electronics
90paper towels367,000Home
91avengers endgame366,000Media
92lego star wars362,000Misc
93xiaomi redmi note 7362,000Electronics
94microwave361,000Home
95bluetooth speakers360,000Electronics
96good omens357,000Media
97coffee356,000Food
98nike356,000Clothing
99projector355,000Electronics
100vans355,000Clothing

Interestingly, three different Apple products appear in the top 10 global searches—Airpods, iPad, and iPhone. Additionally, a couple of older iPhone models make the overall ranking—iPhone 7 comes in at 21st place, and iPhone 8 takes the 28th spot.

On the U.S. list, these older iPhone models don’t even make the top 100.

Keyword Category Rankings

When it comes to top-ranking keywords, the electronics category appears to be the most important to Americans. Over half the U.S. top product searches fall under electronics, with the home category in second place.

Here’s a look at the full U.S. category breakdown:

Interestingly, when comparing the order of categories in the U.S versus worldwide, the sections remain mostly the same:

Category# of U.S. Keywords# of Global Keywords
Electronics5170
Home2212
Media97
Misc136
Clothing34
Food21

Like the U.S., electronics comes in at number one worldwide. However, it’s an even larger portion for the global ranking—70 keyword searches on the global list are for electronics.

The home category is more popular in the U.S. than across the globe, with 22 in the U.S. versus 12 worldwide. In America, air fryer is the most popular keyword search under this section—possibly because people were looking for a quick way to make their meals while they were busy playing Animal Crossing on their Switches.

The second most popular U.S. keyword under the home category is toilet paper. Considering the toilet paper shortages in the spring of 2020, this makes sense, as stores began limiting the number of rolls a person could purchase.

What Will 2021 Bring?

Based on the top 100 list, both globally and in the U.S., it’s clear that when searching on Amazon, a majority of consumers are looking for electronics.

However, the specific electronics they’re searching for (such as iPhones and Nintendo Switches), helps to provide some context around the products people are interested in, as well as the particular brands that are currently on everyone’s radar.

Will the Switch get switched out of the top spot in 2021? Because electronics tend to update so frequently, it’s very possible.

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