Online ad spending grew by 28.1% in Canada last year

Driven by big boosts in search and social, IAB Canada's latest report expects to momentum to continue for at least two more years.

After weathering the challenges faced in 2020, IAB Canada’s 2021 revenue survey shows the industry is on the upswing.

The latest edition of the IAB’s annual report showed a 28.1% growth rate in ad revenue from online platforms, compared to 11.1% in 2020. That resulted in 2021 internet advertising revenue exceeding $12.32 billion in Canada.

The industry leveraged the momentum from budgets that had shifted to digital in 2020 and grew across several key categories.

The greatest volume of growth was derived from a significant increase in search investment, which was up 34.8% thanks to the ecommerce boost from 2020 along with a very competitive auction environment. Search contributed 46.2% of digital ad revenue. Social media grew by 20.8% to make up 26.1% of the total, a 20.8% increase. Though it made up 13.5% of the total spending, display grew by 47.9%, driven by a 61.4% increase in branded content. Video grew by 36.4% to make up 9.9% of spending, audio contributed 1.2%, though it had a big year-over-year boost of 59%.

The growing digital OOH and connected TV categories also had impacts on this year’s numbers. Digital OOH category had a year-over-year increase of 32.1%. Advanced TV made up almost half of the revenues in video, with significant growth coming in connected TV spending through YouTube.

Esports and video game are also growing ad venues. Esports came in with $5.1 million in revenue in 2021 and is projected to grow to $5.7 million this year. Video games brought in a whopping $190.6 million last year and
is expected to grow to $197.0 million in 2022.

IAB Canada forecasts internet advertising revenue to grow by 23.2% this year, followed by another 29.5% in 2023. Of the $12.23 billion internet revenue generated in 2021, 8% (or $1 billion) of the total revenue is attributable to domestic companies. Excluding search and social, Canadian companies account for 29% of spending.