Canadians are on TikTok more than ever: study

The platform supplanted Facebook usage and is trending to stay that way post pandemic.
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In its latest Global Ad Trends report: COVID-19 One Year On, WARC highlights a number of significant trends, some of which are likely here to stay. Most notably, the study reports a 30% rise in global digital media consumption, and the subsequent, ongoing, erosion of linear TV advertising.

While the channel spend has flatlined in recent years, this recent analysis shows that the trend is precipitous, with global spend on linear TV dropping over $30 billion in 2020, due in large part to COVID-affected production issues.

Certain players and platforms have also risen to the top over the past pandemic year. On the social front, TikTok consumption has doubled globally (according to app analytics organization App Annie), and WARC reports that TikTok users in Canada spend 17 hours per month on the app, taking the top spot from Facebook. The platform has also supplanted Facebook in a number of markets, including France (also 17 hours), the U.K. (20 hours) and the U.S. (22 hours), with WARC indicating that the consumption habits could prove permanent, with over half of those surveyed indicating intent to maintain their higher activity levels on the platform post-pandemic.

In parallel, findings in WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2021, based on a survey of over 1,000 marketers globally, show that 44% of brands expect to increase spend on TikTok this year, ahead of Facebook’s 39%.

Similarly, it’s no surprise that ecommerce’s role in consumer behaviour was greatly affected by the pandemic, with WARC indicating that ecommerce doubled its share of retail sales in Canada (now 25%), even more than in the U.S. (22%, up from 11%) during the peak of COVID-19 in 2020. That trend is set to continue, the report suggests, with WARC providing data from Earnest Research that shows 59% of new COVID-19 Amazon customers were still buying with the company at the end of 2020, the highest retention rate in American retail.

On the gaming front, WARC’s data suggests that gamers are increasingly more receptive to advertising, especially mobile gamers.

Due to the free, ad-supported nature of many mobile games, the survey indicates that audiences understand the value exchange and are receptive to watching ads for in-game benefits, noting, however that brands should focus on integrating campaigns into the format in a contextual, seamless manner, rather than interrupting the activity itself.

Esports sponsorship are expected to grow globally by 11.6% this year and top $600 million USD in spend for the first time, per Newzoo forecasts. Interestingly, a third of marketers polled say gaming is not an area of higher focus in 2021.

In fact, many countries in the survey indicated that their gamers are increasingly less engaged with in-game ads, with countries like Denmark and New Zealand reporting the most significant reduction in gaming-related ad engagement, followed closely by Canada, whereas countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel and Japan had the highest increase in gamer engagement.

“The media disruption from COVID-19 was rapid and severe, but the data suggest that brands were largely able to adapt to the immediate shifts in consumer behaviour,” says Rob Clapp, senior analyst, WARC Data, and author of the research. “The clear correlation between changes in user activity and advertising spend shows how digital media has benefitted.”

The main takeaway for brands, Clapp notes, has been a greater focus on agility, innovation and effectiveness, “a trend that is likely to perpetuate digital media’s rapid growth in 2021 and beyond.