Digital Ad Spend is Climbing: 10 Advertisers Behind the Spike

March 31, 2020

With the entire economic landscape transformed since the Coronavirus pandemic, is moving forward with sales, especially in digital ad spend, worth it? In short, yes.

We’ve outlined which industries were hit the hardest and advertisers surging their ad spend to accommodate new consumer realities. Now’s the time to pivot focus and capitalize on the new ad opportunities.

Request a Winmo trial today

What industries are being hit the hardest?

It’s no surprise that the travel, hospitality, and entertainment have bore the brunt of this pandemic. These industries combined have seen a $332B shrink in market cap and value over the past month, according to Visual Capitalist. As investor confidence declines and market valuations plummet for key sectors, advertisers and ad executives are also waiving with confidence given the health crisis and new consumer behaviors.

Ad budgets have already seen significant decreases in the first quarter. And, more than two-thirds (68%) of ad executives say the most pronounced ad spend cuts will be seen in Q2 2020, according to Advertiser Perceptions last week.

While some industries have taken a direct hit in market value and cut advertising spend, others are ramping up their digital presence. The trick is to pivot your company’s strategy to provide value to these new ad opportunities. New advertising trends are aligning with the new realities from likely and unlikely sectors.

For instance, it’s no surprise we are seeing ad spend spikes in video conferencing (Zoom, GoToMeeting, GoogleHangout) and work-from-home tech (Microsoft Teams and Slack), given “shelter in place” mandates. There are also high user acquisition spikes for streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ to keep consumers entertained while social distancing. The key to any successful new strategy is to be proactive and adjust for industries with the most potential.

Where’s the opportunity? 

The Winmo team has identified 10 companies in five major industries behind the digital ad spend spikes —  pivot outreach strategies and focus your time on advertisers who are spending now.

    1. Home Improvement
    2. Hobbies/Interest
    3. Entertainment (EA, Lego)
    4. Tech (GoDaddy, Wrike)
    5. Food (Dominos, 5-Hour Energy)

1)  Home improvement digital ad spend

With spring in the air for many states, there are many home improvement projects this time of year. As construction and landscaping remain essential in at least 16 states, there is still potential as this sector continues to boost its advertising spending in key states.

Ace Hardware

First up, among many in the home improvement category, Ace Hardware is upping digital and social ad spend with free delivery promotions. The WFH workforce is motivated to fix ‘that crack in the wall’ and construction needs still continue in many states. Social spend on Facebook has climbed to $7k per day and trending. Find more Winmo intel on Ace Hardware here.


Dyson has also seen a spike in digital ad spending with a 78% increase over the last 30 days to capitalize on a surge in home cleaning and self-care needs. Many of their ads focus on Dyson’s vacuum cleaners, fans, humidifiers, hand dryers, lighting, and hair dryers and stylers. Find more Winmo intel on Dyson here.

2)  Hobbies/interest digital ad spend

Given our lifestyle changes, the hobbies/interest industry has also made leaps in ad spend to accommodate for the close of nonessential businesses who have brick and mortar stores in the fitness, self-care, and hospitality sectors. According to PubMatic, this category has seen the second-highest ad spend increase with at a 31% lift globally during the week of March 15.


MasterClass comes out of left field with massive ad spend for this category. The online education platform where students can access pre-recorded tutorials and lectures by experts in various fields, has invested heavily for mind share this past week. Follow the dollars as they aggressively ramp digital display spend to $450k/day (primarily YouTube ads), supported by an additional $120k/day spend on Facebook. New customer acquisition is clearly the goal and these efforts will expand to user engagement and retention initiatives. Within Winmo you can also see similar online education spenders that mirror the Masterclass profile highlighted in the image below. Find more Winmo intel on MasterClass here.

The Penny Hoarder

Then there’s the US’s largest personal finance website. Given the economic downturn with a record of 3.3 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits during the week of March 21, Americans are reading how to make smart money decisions. Penny Hoarder has made a massive jump in ad spend, increasing digital by $3.6M since January, most of it seen this month. Top campaigns in the last 30 days help readers manage low credit scores and find creative ways to pay off debt.

3)  Entertainment digital ad spend

Gaming satisfies the social pacification that many consumers seek in stressful situations, especially social distancing. While we’re doing our best to maintain healthy routines, the share of gamers will increase in an increasingly diverse gaming market. 

Electronic Arts

Online gaming brands like EA have been well poised to adapt their campaigns. There’s been dramatic ad spend increases since March 9th to capture additional market share and drive habitual game/brand loyalty. Find more Winmo intel on EA here.


With kids at home, Lego has increased digital media ad spend — and 83% direct buy. Find more Winmo intel on Lego here.

4)  Tech digital ad spend

According to PubMatic, this industry has seen a lift of 14% post-COVID-19. This is likely due to the influx of work-from-home, online schooling, and restaurants/retailers trying to reach consumers digitally. Here are the “not-so-obvious” ad spenders in this category.


GoDaddy has increased its ad spend to support restaurants, retail, fitness, and real-estate businesses through an online-supported business model. Find more Winmo intel on GoDaddy here.


Many businesses are now fully remote. Now, online project management tools like Wrike are needed to enable collaboration and centralize communications among many workforces. Wrike’s ad spend started to surge to support the need.

5)  Food digital ad spend

By mid-March, many state and city officials announced an executive order to shut down all on-site dining at restaurants and bars. The social-distancing mandates across the country are forcing delivery, drive-thru, and curb-side options. Food brands are capitalizing on our new, restricted lifestyle.


Domino’s has seen a 400%+ digital ad spend increase since March 9 and matched social spend increase (Facebook) with a $424k average daily spend in NY and CA. The shelter-in-place orders opened delivery opportunities and Pizza Hut is following Domino’s lead. Find more Winmo intel on Dominos here.

5-hour ENERGY

Finally, The portable energy shots are leveraging the time when many are at home multitasking. They had a surge of $1.1M in YouTube video ads starting in mid-March, which focuses on key cities including Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles. Find more Winmo intel on Living Essentials, LLC the makers of 5-hour Energy shots here.

To wrap up, don’t push pause on business development. Instead, get smarter about the audience you’re targeting and the offer you’re pitching. Many brands have adjusted their digital advertising spending to consumers’ needs, so use the appropriate tools that highlight ad spend opportunities with brands. 

Request a Winmo trial today

If you liked this blog post, check out:

  1. How Advertisers are Adjusting to Fanless Sports
  2. Opportunity Ahead: 15 New CMO Hires
  3. What is Ad Sales? A Beginner’s Guide to Ultimate Success


Subscribe to the Winmo blog to receive actionable insights you can use now.