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DTC Brands Spend Less, Get More Impressions in First Half

Carvana spent $77 million on ads like this in the first half of 2020 (Image credit:

With many consumers avoiding retail stores during the pandemic, direct-to-consumer brands were able get more ad impressions during the first half while spending less, according to an analysis by

In the first half, 146 DTC brands spent more than $1.2 billion on advertising, down 2.6% from a year ago, according to There were 23 new DTC brands in the half. They spent $18.8 million on TV.

Most DTC companies start marketing themselves online, then shift to TV to accelerate their growth. As they become new TV advertisers, networks and stations are eager to sell them commercials at a time when spending by their more traditional clients’ spending was flat at best, even before the virus infected the economy.

The top spender was Carvana at just under $76.6 million, followed by Wayfair, Grubhub, DoorDash and Peloton. The top 10 brands accounted for 43.5% of DTC spending.

Despite spending less, these advertisers got more with their ad dollars generating 162.8 billion impressions, up 13.7%. 

Five advertisers accounted for 25% of those impressions: Carvana, Wayfair, Grubhub, Peloton and Noom. A year ago, Caravan and Noom weren’t on the list of top advertisers.

(Image credit:

Grubhub and other delivery services boomed with diners not eating out at restaurants. Delivery companies increased their first-half impressions by 34% from a year ago.

iSpot.TV found that DTC brands had more impressions during reality shows than any other programming genre during the first half. Reality’s share of DTC spending rose from 15.7 in March to 18.2 in May.

In its report, iSpot.TV noted that without tentpole events, the DTC advertisers bought ads on new networks and shows.

HGTV got about $90 million in spending by DTC companies, followed by CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, ESPN, Fox News, Fox, Comedy Central and MTV.

Among DTC ads that were backed by more than $5 million in spending, said Headspace’s Be Kind to Your Mind spot had the highest attention score. It was followed by’s We’re Here for You Spot and a commercial called Who Wants In from Peloton.

“DTC brands are a growing part of TV advertising, and also represent new arrivals to the medium. Even with spending cutbacks, the fact that DTC brands had more TV ad impressions year-over-year shows a roadmap for how TV advertisers of any experience level can find audiences even without tentpoles,” said in the report.