Media Buying in the Canadian Market

A few days ago, a report on Canadian e-commerce was released that cited a study on Canadian Web users. As Canada is my native country, the report naturally caught my eye.

Canada still boasts one of the world’s highest Internet penetration rates. Last year, Ipsos-Reid and Statistics Canada conjointly reported Canada ranked second worldwide in Internet usage in 2000, with Sweden coming in first, and the U.S. ranking third. In 2002, Canada’s Internet penetration rate was just over 47 percent.

Canada had approximately 14.9 million individual Internet users last year. This number is expected to grow to 21.4 million by the end of 2004. That may not seem very impressive when compared to the volume of Internet users in the United States (153.8 million last year), but Statistics Canada confirms Canada’s total population of was only around 31 million when the data were gathered. That puts the level of Canadians’ involvement with the Internet into perspective.

Given this latest news, and presuming it will inspire more advertisers to pursue the online market, I’d like to examine how some of the latest online advertising trends are unfolding up North. We’ll look at some of the more appealing options available to online marketers.

My ClickZ colleague Martin Lindstrom wrote an interesting case study on YellowPages.com a couple weeks ago. He addressed the company’s efforts to develop a brand identity and entertain users while keeping them informed. YellowPages.ca is the company’s Canadian counterpart. Although it hasn’t undergone the same revisions and improvements as YellowPages.com, it’s increasingly popular among advertisers needing to reach an active, targeted Canadian audience.

YellowPages.ca’s structure allows advertisers to ensure their messages are delivered to an audience that’s actively searching for their particular brands, in manner not unlike keyword advertising. A retailer selling travel-related products, for example, can book banner placements in unambiguous site sections and fixed categories, such as Travel Accessories. For clients whose businesses are highly specific — whether business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) — and whose products are relatively obscure (think non-ceramic tiles, or transparent plastic bags), the technique is ideal. It takes the legwork out of online advertising, and it brings the customer to you.

YellowPages.ca’s media sales are handled by 24/7 Canada, the Canadian counterpart of 24/7. 24/7 Canada offers media buyers a variety of creative options within their network of Canadian sites, including customized marketing programs, some of which can be designed to reach French-Canadian consumers.

One of the hot trends in U.S. online advertising is also taking off in Canada: content integration and advertorial-style content placements. The purpose is to promote the advertiser’s product and improve brand recall and purchase intent.

For the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the network recently partnered with Quebec’s largest recipe search site. It fashioned a unique ad placement: a branded, content-rich cheese section. It features recipes that call for cheese as a primary ingredient and that appeal to one of the client’s target markets: busy mothers with hyperactive families to feed.

YellowPages.ca also developed a customized search tool for General Motors of Canada. It’s currently running on one of Canada’s leading automotive portals, a research source for potential car buyers. The tool allows consumers to outline their specific car requirements and search for the GM vehicles that best suit their needs. It also localizes searches, only providing information on vehicles at local dealerships that meet the customer’s requirements.

If you represent a client based in Canada or buy for a U.S. business able to cater to Canadian consumers, these examples may prove useful when planning your next campaign. Even if you don’t have any direct involvement with Canadian media, our Northern neighbor’s online advertising initiatives are a good source of insight and inspiration. With such a large percentage of Canadians online, there may just be a Canadian Internet advertising boom yet.

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