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Did Walmart or Target Miss Out with Their Black Friday SEM Strategy?

Published: December 17, 2013

Author: Lori Weiman

Walmart and Target
Here at The Search Monitor, we love to use our database of competitive search marketing data to pit two companies against each other and see how they compare. This week, we looked at Walmart and Target.
For the comparison, we analyzed the last four months of data (August 2 to December 2) for a metric we call Market Visibility. Market Visibility is like Market Share – it is calculated as the combined reach and frequency of a retailer’s ads. We can look at this metric for any specific company or a rolled-up vertical.
The data immediately shocked us. Two close competitors should not have such distinct market visibility trends, we thought. After our whole team weighed in on what they thought was happening here from a strategic perspective, we agreed upon two possible explanations for the swapping of Market Visibility in the last month of this chart (November):
1. Walmart missed the boat in November and let Target overtake them in terms of visibility.
2. Walmart knew exactly what it was doing and decided to front-load its ads to build considerable impressions in September and October. Then, they waited and let the sales roll in from inbound/SEO in November
There is another fun point to discuss here: What was Target up to in September, during its giant dip? Again, The Search Monitor came up with two more ideas:
1. Target chose to drop its Market visibility to 0 around September 1 and keep it low for the entire month. It wanted  to chill out after spending a lot during its big back-to-school season and save ad money for November.
2. Target got caught with its pants down and either forgot to continue a campaign or just ran out of money. The result was very little visibility during September.
We’d love to get the 3QDigital readers in on the discussion and see what you think. It’s always interesting to get in the minds of the big SEM spenders and learn from their smart (or strange) moves.

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