[From Inside Radio]

While it’s no secret that the holiday season is primetime for retailers, a new analysis from Nielsen points out just how essential fourth-quarter is for advertising. Almost 30% of total annual retail spend comes in Q4, with $71.6 trillion spent over the last five years on advertising for the top 20 product categories. And “big box” advertisers are clear leaders.

“During the holidays, retailers are presented with their best opportunities to accelerate sales momentum and reach their revenue goals before the end of the year,” Nielsen offers, while suggesting, “In such a crowded advertising space, it is imperative for retailers, and mass merchandisers in particular, to reach consumers and get the best bang for their advertising buck during the holiday season.”

“Big box” mass merchandisers account for more than half of retail’s Gross Ratings Points (GRPs), measuring ad impressions during the holiday months. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a significant increase in mass merchandiser ad spend during the holidays compared to the rest of the year.

“While the retail category as a whole increases its media weight during the holiday season, this increase in GRPs is more significant within the mass merchandiser subcategory than all of the other retailer brands combined,” Nielsen reveals. “Mass merchandiser brands doubled down on a weekly basis leading up to the holidays in 2015, particularly in early November and the week leading up to Black Friday.”

Despite the clutter of more ads and a “significantly higher ad spend” across the mass merchandiser category, ad performance—and “Ad and Brand Memorability” performance—for these advertisers during November and December in 2015 was “on par compared to their performance the rest of the year,” Nielsen said.

When it comes to breaking through the clutter, it’s important to differentiate your ad vs. the competition, Nielsen advises. The key to doing so is “developing distinctive, memorable executions that are strongly associated with your brand….As we find ourselves in another holiday season where the competition for airtime is fierce, advertisers need to strike the right balance of quantity and quality in order to have a successful advertising campaign.”