Blog: How can agencies break through the Canadian media crisis?

Touché!'s Alexandra Cloutier explains the three big takeaways from the agency's Canadian-first media experiment.
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By: Alexandra Cloutier

Over the past 10 years, the global auction market has contributed to the demise of over 250 Canadian Media outlets, destabilizing the contemporary media value chain as investments are leaving the Canadian media ecosystem.

This new model in digital advertising has accentuated the need for immediate results, and as a result advertisers must deliver campaign results from this short-term (often biased) performance platform. The conclusion: More real-time, but less convincing results.

In recent years the debate has focused on the ethical importance of financially supporting Canadian media and less about advertisers achieving their primary objectives of financial growth. Touché! is convinced that these two objectives are not inseparable.

Close collaboration with advertising players will ensure that Canadian media stays in its rightful place in the advertising world while delivering results.

A vision shared by Touché! and its client VIA Rail led to the co-development of major strategic media pillars which were implemented in the 2019 VIA Rail campaign, Love the Way. A test was done in which 80% of advertising dollars were utilized amongst Canadian media distributors and content creators which led to successful results and exceeded planned objectives.

The goal was not to move completely away from global platforms, but to find a fair balance that allows the establishment of new strategic pillars which deliver both business performance and responsible media planning:

1. Ensure that investments are proportional to the actual consumption of Canadian consumers

One of the most common myths about Canadian media is that the media has limited reach. Local broadcasters actually represent 33% of the time spent online in Canada, and typically account for less than 15% of online media investment, according to numbers from ComScore, IAB and Numerator. To prove its performance, Touché! and VIA Rail invested 80% of the brand’s media budget in Canadian media, which generated an additional reach of 50%.

2. Measure the actual delivered value of media placement.

Compared to other digital platforms, Canadian media properties generally appear more expensive in cost per thousand impressions (CPM). However, if we take into account the quantitative parameters such as visibility, optimal frequency along with the quality of the context – the truth is sometimes quite different. Since not all impressions are equal, the actual value should be considered. VIA Rail and Touché! have created a unified impression metric for all media.

3. Showcase the efforts and value of each media placement.

The results of digital campaigns are generally biased due to the non-objectivity of certain attribution models. These models tend to favour certain media more than others, hence widening the investment gap.

Current platforms use the attribution of last interaction, which limits the understanding of media efforts as they favour tactics at the bottom of the sales funnel. This in turn affects the achievement of long-term results.

VIA Rail and Touché! objectively measured the performance of each investment, thanks to the development of a tailor-made attribution model. This model considers the entire media ecosystem which allows the visualization of the impact of Canadian content, facilitate most conversions and reduce costs per acquisition by 6%.

The implementation of these strategic pillars greatly contributed to the business success of VIA Rail, which increased its total revenues by 6% and the number of train tickets sold in the summer of 2019 by 5%. They were able to do all this while allocating a fair share of investments to Canadian media, demonstrating that it is possible to deliver expected performance responsibly.

Alexandra Cloutier is a supervisor of digital investment at Touché!