How Top Brands in the Toy Industry Increased Advertising Spends by +105% in 2021

Advertising
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Brand & Positioning Strategy
Content & Messaging
January 25, 2022
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Key Takeaways

Top brands in the Toy industry increased advertising spends by +105% in 2021. Here’s how:

Budget & Channel Maintenance

  • Ad Spend: Digital advertising spends saw +105% increase into the second half of 2021.
  • Top Channel: Instagram saw the highest spend in the competitive set with 42% budget allocation.
  • Emerging Channel: YouTube saw the highest increase at +529% increase into the second half of the year.
  • Plateau Channel: Search saw the lowest increase in spending with a +7% increase into the second half of the year.

Ad Creatives & Campaigns

  • Lego: 60% of its spend went to Instagram promoting a campaign showing the possibilities of creating with LEGO.
  • Disney Store: 48% of its spend went to Instagram & Facebook, utilizing the carousel feature to display gift ideas.
  • Mattel: Promoted the bond between children & adults with toys through an animation & with family influencers.
  • Squishable: Pushed pre-orders for their toys and used personification of a character to build a community. 
  • Ty, Inc.: Incentivised viewers by allocating proceeds of specific toys to a charity & offering gift ideas for the holidays.

Gifting in 2022 & Promotions

  • Ads: Disney Store & Squishable focused their gifting ads toward Facebook & Instagram while Lego is focusing on Display.
  • Landing Page: Valentine’s Day LPs feature segmentation for different gift types for easy navigation.
  • Promotions: Squishable offers multiple deals throughout the month (approx. 5/month) from bundles to free shipping via email marketing.

The following companies were included in the competitive set for this analysis:

The companies in the competitive set increased their digital advertising spend by +105% from the first half to the second half of 2021. Toy companies started to see an increase in ad spend in October 2021 with a +152% increase in average ad spend. November 2021 saw the highest ad spend at $16M and February 2021 saw the lowest ad spend at $4M.  

*Ad spend includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Display, YouTube and Search
Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

Squishable is the only company that spent less during the second half (July - December) than during the first half of 2021 (January – June). Lego increased their ad spend the most of all brands in the competitive set, spending 2.8x more in the second half of the year than in the first half.

*Ad spend includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Display, YouTube and Search
Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

Throughout 2021, the competitor set allocated 42% of their digital advertising budgets to Instagram. Twitter saw the lowest spend allocation at 3% of the channel spends. 

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

In 2021, all advertising channels saw an ad spend increase into Q3 and Q4. YouTube saw the highest increase in spend from the first half to the second half of 2021 at +529%. Search ads saw the lowest increase in spend at +7%.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

In 2021, the companies in the competitive set invested $96M into digital advertising. Instagram saw the highest spend of 2021 at $40.6M.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

In 2021, LEGO spent 60% of its total digital advertising budget on Instagram. Into the second half of 2021, LEGO increased all its channel spends with the highest increase in Facebook (+20,607%) from $89 to $18K followed by YouTube (+521%) from $601K to $3.7M.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

LEGO invested 60% ($19M) of its digital advertising into Instagram in 2021. The top ad is a single image of a children’s book promoting the “Rebuild the World” Campaign. This is a campaign that encourages people to share their children’s LEGO creations on Instagram as a way to encourage and inspire others.

Post Link | Rebuild The World

LEGO increased its YouTube spend from $601K to $3.7M in 2021. The top two spends feature and promote the “Rebuild the World” campaign as seen on Instagram. The top spend is a 15 second video and the following spend is a 60 seconds video. Both videos feature scenarios demonstrating possibilities of creating with LEGO.

Link #1 | Link #2

In 2021, the Disney Store spent 52% of its total digital advertising budget to run search ads, investing $15.5M into this channel. Into the second half of 2021, Disney increased its Facebook spend by +350% and decreased its Search spend by -9%.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

In November 2021, the Disney Store focused its paid search campaign on driving traffic to the homepage of the website. Ads with the homepage linked had an average CPC of $1.02. All top keywords are branded except a bag collaboration with ‘loungefly’. One of Disney’s top ads on Search is for Cyber Monday, in November 2021, search accounted for 15% of all traffic to the website.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.
*Share of total paid traffic.
Shop Disney

The Disney Store invested 48% ($14.3M) of its digital advertising budget into Facebook and Instagram in 2021. Top ad spends on these channels utilize the carousel feature to display products and encourage viewers to shop for gifts for themselves and loved ones. 

Link #1 | Link #2 | Link #3

In 2021, Mattel spent 42% of its total digital advertising budget on Instagram. Into the second half of 2021, Mattel increased all its channel spends with the highest increase in YouTube (+542%) from $369 to $2.3M followed by Facebook (+470%) from $1.3M to $7.3M.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

Mattel invested +470% more into Facebook in the second half of 2021 for their brands. The top advertising creative for 2021 features an animated reality video focusing on how “Toys bring us together”. The video references the different ways parents and children play together.

Link Post

Mattel invested 42% of their budget into Instagram in 2021 for their brands. Mattel experimented with two influencer sponsored posts. One for Barbie with @laurenluyendyk (1.2M followers) and one for the Mattel brand with @xicana_mama (8.2K followers), both creators share family-based content.

Spend: $87K | Imp.: 8.3M | CPM: $10.5

Spend: $50K | Imp.: 4.7M | CPM: $10.5 (Ad runs on both Facebook & Instagram, preview only provided for Facebook)

In 2021, Squishable spent 61% of its total digital advertising budget to run Facebook ads. Into the second half of 2021, Squishable decreased Facebook, Instagram and Search advertising spends with the largest decrease in Search ads at -78%. Twitter was introduced in December 2021 with a total spend of $388 (0.01% of the 2021 budget).

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

Squishable invested 61% ($4.2M) of its digital advertising budget into Facebook in 2021. Top advertising creative on Facebook features product shot imagery with a brief description of the product. 70% of the top 10 ad spends on Facebook in 2021 promote pre-orders. 

Spend: $411K | Imp.: 45M | CPM: $9.1

Spend: $395K | Imp.: 42M | CPM: $9.4

Spend: $201K | Imp.: 21M | CPM: $9.7 (Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting)

Squishable also invested 36% ($2.5M) of its digital advertising into Instagram in 2021. The top ad spend for Instagram in 2021 encourages viewers to “Enter the curious world of the Mysterious Doctor Plague!” Squishable personified a relevant toy to the climate of COVID and built an online presence for it through it’s own personal Instagram account and landing page.

Link #1 | Link # 2 | Link #3
Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

In 2021, Ty, Inc. spent 62% of its total digital advertising budget on Facebook. Into the second half of 2021, Ty, Inc. increased its Facebook spend by +76% and decreased its Search and Instagram spend by -55% and -46% respectively.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

Ty, Inc. invested 62% ($2.5M) of its digital advertising budget into Facebook in 2021. Ty, Inc. uses incentive-based creatives and holiday themes to advertise to viewers. The top ad spend for Facebook in 2021 is a social initiative stating that 100% of profits on the Max ‘Beanie Baby’ will go to the NEXT for AUTISM charity.

Spend: $231K | Imp.: 25M | CPM: $9.3

Spend: $95K | Imp.: 9.1M | CPM: $10.4

Spend: $12K | Imp.: 1.2M | CPM: $9.7 (Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting)

Gifting in 2022

Into January 2022, only Disney Store, LEGO and Squishable are running gifting ads for general gifting ideas and Valentine’s Day. Both Disney Store and Squishable are focusing their gifting ad messaging toward Facebook & Instagram, while Lego is focusing on Display networks.

Link #1 | Link #2 | Link#3
Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting. | As of January 24, 2022

LEGO and Disney Store currently have the most robust gifting landing pages for Valentine’s Day out of the competitive set. Both landing pages feature segmentation for different gift types so that viewers can easily navigate to find appropriate gifts.  

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas | Shop Disney

Offering Frequent Deals

Currently Squishable is the only brand offering many deals over a short period of time. From July 2021 to mid January 2022, Squishable has hosted an average of 5 promotions a month communicated through email marketing. Deals range from bundles (3 for 2), to site discounts, and free shipping. Not all promotions are limited to one day.

Link #1 | Link #2 | Link #3
Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting. | As of January 24, 2022

Promotion Alternatives

Most competitors in this set do not offer daily deals but will occasionally communicate one day sales via email or through their rewards programs. 

Mattel uses email marketing to communicate flash sales on a variety of brands. LEGO uses their VIP reward program landing page to incentivize increased life time value amongst customers and make them part of a broader community while offering exclusive discounts.

Link #1 | Link #2
Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting. | As of January 24, 2022

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