Traditional vs. Digital Ad Spending in Canada

Canadian marketers know they need to be where Canadian consumers are. 2018 was the first time companies spent more on digital marketing than advertising on traditional media (TV, radio and print), according to a recent eMarketer report. However, savvy marketers have been investing more into digital than traditional media for quite some time now. Just five years ago, digital ad spending was only 30.8 percent of the average marketing budget.

The balance of marketing forces are being shifted by video, which is fast replacing TV in this country. Canadians have always loved online video and we lead the world in consumption, according to many statistics that have come to our attention over the years.

“More than any other country in our global forecast, digital video time is greatest in Canada in relation to TV time,” said Paul Briggs, eMarketer’s senior analyst on Canada. “This is due to the immense popularity of Netflix and YouTube among Canadians.”

Canadians are also lured online by their mobile devices, which they use to consume and enrich everything from social media to “watchable content.”

“Mobile’s ascent is not just a device story, it’s a services story,” Briggs said. “Digital services like social feeds are inherently mobile, and video platforms now deliver highly watchable content on smaller screens like smartphones and tablets.”

Smart marketers are aware that Canadians are online and they’re focused on engaging consumers there. Content marketing, native advertising and influencer marketing have proven to be the most effective ways to reach Canadians online (while also improving SEO).  All of the best, engaging content is then carefully woven throughout social media. As it is for eCommerce, the strategic use of multiple touch-points and platforms brings the most profitable results.

B2B Online Marketing

Canadian marketers are becoming much more adept and comfortable with B2C online marketing. They still struggle with B2B, however, at least in regards to adapting proven content strategies to the B2B market. It’s tougher to find influencers with a B2B audience, especially within our borders. Content marketing, on the other hand, is just as effective at the B2B level when it’s done properly.

B2B information consumption is similar, but that information must be offered in a way that is useful and concise. For example, many B2B consumers don’t have time to indulge their curiosity if you use vague email subject lines or “clickbait” headlines on social media. They respond better to the specific promise of actionable content or a defined solution to a problem they’re experiencing.

Digital Ad Spending in Canada

The total media ad spending in Canada should reach $16.43 billion CAD this year, predicts eMarketer.  $8.8 billion of that will be spent on digital advertising in one form or another.

Total Media Ad Spending in Canada 2018-2023 Chart

Budgets go much farther online and the results are at least somewhat trackable. Data can be harvested and utilized to constantly increase the effectiveness of each method, thereby boosting the ROI of campaigns.

Targeting is probably the most valuable advantage that digital has over traditional media. The closest we’ve come in traditional media is special interest publications (such as a hobby magazine). Online, the whole campaign can target a very specific group and hit it every time.

What to Try Next

Affiliate marketing is still under-utilized in Canada, but it can have a significant impact on your bottom line. It allows you to advertise on a large number of websites, but only pay for it when a sale occurs (or per lead if you prefer). We have a complete guide to starting an affiliate program if you’d like to learn more.

??? Has your marketing budget shifted to digital?

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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on, and, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Trent Chevrolet

Digital brings so much more to the table especially for a small biz! You can cast your net where you’ll catch a bunch of stuff that isn’t edible or you can cast it where only your favourite fish swim. Feast or famine! It doesn’t take a genius marketer to figure out which one to choose. Even big businesses that can afford TV will also be big online in campaigns. Canadian business sure have come a long way in 5 years!