Every year, Canadian marketing and publishing communities base their strategies and investments on the Canadian Media Usage Trends (CMUST) report. This comprehensive report, which covers Total Canada and French Canada, documents consumers’ changing media content consumption across devices and screens. This year’s report identified three media trends impacting marketing effectiveness. 

What are the latest trends?

According to Matt Devlin, Managing Director of Marketing Science at PHD (which compiles the CMUST report), these are the significant trends:

  1. Funding digital availability: on the path to purchase, digital availability is situated in between mental availability (having your brand come to mind, largely driven by advertising) and physical availability (having your brand available for purchase). It’s a major expense for many marketers, who must invest in being on that path to purchase on digital websites and also increasingly on paid media. Over the last three years, e-commerce has grown dramatically–and along with it, digital advertising–causing marketers to prioritize funding digital availability while also maintaining some investment in mental availability. Going forward, Matt advises, the key is to find a balance by determining which elements of digital are working successfully and which are superfluous. 
  1. Fragmented attention: there has been an acceleration of consumers’ fragmented attention. Surprisingly, time spent on the internet on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices has been on decline, year on year, two years in a row. But there has also been significant growth in connected TV and subscription services, suggesting that digital time is shifting to the device on the wall, which has implications in terms of measurement and audience reach. Subscription growth means less ad-funded time on media: for adults, it has dropped to 70% and amongst young adults (18-34), the number drops to 54%. “Attention is becoming much more fragmented in terms of marketers’ ability to reach it–more platforms, more ways of measuring, more types of creative–and that is creating a lot of complexity that simply didn’t exist before,” Matt points out. 
  1. Multifaceted inflation: there is significant inflation in the TV market, partly driven by an unequal erosion of TV audiences. Younger audiences (aged 25-54) have turned away from TV, causing there to be a supply issue. Matt explains that it “takes twice as many GRPs now to reach half the population as it did 2-3 years ago.” As a result, cost points are increasing and delivering less reach. The sensible thing is to take that TV investment and diversify in other channels.

These huge disruptions to the media landscape make it more important than ever to be able to identify your desired audience, planning for multi-channel reach and fragmented attention with stronger creative and better measurement.

How can we apply these findings?

At the Canadian Marketing Association’s annual CMAmedia event, I joined RJ Pauloski, Managing Director of Marketing at Teads Canada, and Carolin Taubensee, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) to review these key findings with Matt and discuss how advertisers can apply them. We focused on 3 takeaways:

  1. As marketing strategies shift, assess business outcomes. As RJ noted, in the 20 months since the pandemic, we’ve “seen the pendulum swing into an era where we’re seeing a lot more investment going into activation (moving products) than we’ve seen historically,” with e-commerce accelerating that swing. As shoppers adopt streaming video, online shopping, and curbside pickup, marketers are focusing more on direct-to-consumer sales. But the pendulum will swing back, seeking a balance, so it’s important that brands continue to build their brand affinity instead of investing solely in outcomes-based marketing tactics. At Quantcast, we rolled out a tool called the ‘halo report,’ which allows brands to see how their branding efforts are directly impacting their e-commerce and activation efforts. Being able to quantify–track and measure–the effects of brand building can help with finding the balance between mental and digital availability to ensure long-term business success.
  2. Test cookieless solutions now. Advertisers should consider how they will continue to reach consumers in this attention-fragmented market without third-party cookies. With one-third of the internet being non-addressable and playing in a cookieless space, it’s a cost-effective time to start testing. Matt explained: “Some of the data that we are seeing is that as channels become harder to track, the costs go down, and that may create opportunities for advertisers to counteract those inflationary effects.” Quantcast recently rolled out a cookieless solution, which helps immensely with testing and finding that population–and whenever a new solution comes on the scene, CPMs can be low, so now is the time for marketers to see what kind of traction they can get. 
  3. Aim for contextually relevant advertisements. “With the increasing challenges around addressability, we are going to see a pivot back towards context,” RJ said. The pendulum is swinging back to the days when individual publishers and networks ruled the world. Brands want to have confidence that they’re reaching their audiences in contextually relevant places. If, for example, Nike targets me with a cool shoe ad, they’ve reached the right audience, but if the ads appear when I’m shopping for my kids or looking for granola recipes, I won’t be in the right frame of mind to notice. We recently introduced Quantcast Connect, which allows publishers to create segments, and then brands can attach themselves to them. So now, advertisers can take context into consideration: if I am reading about fashion and getting back into post-pandemic shape, I’m in a perfect frame of mind to look at an advertisement about running shoes. It is crucial to find the marriage between content and context.

Rediscovering what content means again can lead to greater creativity, and marketers who are able to get this balance right, by following the path to purchase but also getting the content right, can be very powerful. As Carolin aptly put it: “Media strategy is an art and a science. You look at the data, but when you’re talking about context, there’s that intuitiveness that media planners have to take into account to understand how to connect with consumers. And that’s not always in a number.”

Watch the full video of our CMAmedia panel discussion:

Interested in Learning More?

To learn more about how you can get started with cookieless campaign testing, check out our recent blog post here