Apple is spending far more than Samsung on digital ads

Apple may have stopped disclosing its overall advertising expenditure this year, but third-party data offers an interesting insight into how much it spends on digital ads — and how that compares to rival Samsung.

Data given exclusively to Business Insider by advertising intelligence and competitive tracking platform Pathmatics shows Apple spent $97 million on display, mobile, and video ads in the US in the year to November 30, 2016 — outspending Samsung’s $80.4 million outlay.

And if you exclude the Samsung products where Apple doesn’t compete — like TVs, refrigerators, laundry, memory and business solutions — Apple outspent its rival by 179%.

Pathmatics works by using web crawlers to ping ads, identify formats, and work out how they were bought. The analysis only covers digital display and video ads — so it doesn’t include social or search spend (the latter of which is where most brands spend the majority of their digital budgets). This data is also third-party and isn’t independently verified by Samsung or Apple.

However, it still offers a fascinating insight into how the pairs’ spending racks up.

The data also shows that Apple’s total digital spend dropped by 16.3% year-on-year, whereas Samsung increased its budget by 49.2%. This appears to mirror Apple’s 10-K, in which the company said its 1% decrease in selling, general, and administrative costs in 2016 compared to 2015 was “was due primarily to lower discretionary expenditures and advertising costs.”

How Apple and Samsung spend their digital budgets online differs wildly, according to the Pathmatics data.

More than three quarters (76%) of Apple’s digital ad spend went on digital ads, 22% went on desktop display, and just over 1% went on mobile.

Meanwhile, Samsung leaned more heavily towards desktop, placing 73% of its overall spend there. Around a fifth (20%) of its budget went towards video and 7% went on mobile.

Diving down further, the Pathmatics data shows that almost all of Apple’s budget went towards direct deals with publishers, whereas Samsung opted to use third-party ad networks, exchanges, and trading desks too. Direct deals often come at a premium, which could be one reason why Apple is outspending Samsung.

Gabe Gottlieb, CEO of Pathmatics, said: “With 100% of Apple’s budget allocated to direct deals with publishers, it’s obvious brand integrity and ad safety is a key concern to one of the market’s biggest advertisers. Safe guarding your brand isn’t exclusively a burden for major spenders however, everyone from big retailers to small ecommerce operators need transparency to ensure their campaigns are being executed as promised.”

The chart below from Pathmatics shows how Apple and Samsung’s digital ad spend varied month-on-month over the last year, according to the Pathmatics data. You can see a big peak from Apple in October ($22 million in that month alone), when it announced the new MacBook Pro and shortly after it began selling the iPhone 7 in mid-September. Both companies also splurged on digital ads in June.

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