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BTS Isn’t What It Used To Be – Digital Gabe
Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

BTS Isn’t What It Used To Be

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As recently as five years ago Back To School/Campus (BTS) was the second biggest shopping season of the year behind Christmas.  As parents prepared to stock their kiddies up with clothes, school supplies and dorm must-haves, advertisers loaded up on advertising to capture the August rush.  But these days BTS advertising is a much smaller phenomenon, which barely registers a seasonal ripple in the marketplace.  So what’s changed?

The primary culprit for the BTS decline is eCommerce.  As consumers’ shopping patterns have shifted online parents are less likely to go on a BTS-specific shopping spree.  Then there’s the “Amazon Prime Day Effect”, which is pulling traditional BTS purchases into mid-July and forcing competitors to offer traditional August specials earlier and earlier.  These factors are spreading out (aka watering down) BTS spending to the point that the actual event has almost become unnoticeable.  According to Kantar there was a 20% decline in BTS ad spending from 2016 to 2017.  That delta is expected to grow this year with retail mainstays like Target and Kohl’s decreasing their spend another 40%+.

The optimists’ take on this trend is that retail spending will still be there – it’s just being reallocated to other times of the year.  In the meantime, those broadcasters and publishers looking to ride the school bus to a late Summer revenue surge are going to be disappointed again this year.


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