TV remains Canada’s most popular display medium, but spend drops 1.8%: WARC

  • TV still the dominant global medium, but budgets continue unrelenting shift to digital
  • Canadians watched an average of 2 hours, 16 minutes of live TV per day in 2018
  • TV remains Canada’s largest display medium, with 32.9% of total investment

Canadian advertisers spent $3.5 billion on television this year, which represents a 1.8% decline from 2017 and a precipitous 17.3% drop from its 2011 peak, according to new research from WARC.

TV still accounts for 32.9% of the country’s display ad spending, but that’s down 1.1% from last year and a 37.2% decline from 2011.

Globally, television remains the world’s dominant advertising medium, attracting more than US140 billion in global ad spend in 2018 according to WARC. That’s more than double the amount advertisers spent on digital (US$58 billion).

But the global research organization also warns that the medium has reached a crossroads, as linear TV viewing continues to decline and advertisers shift budgets towards digital.

Reach remains TV’s key selling point, with global data suggesting that it reaches 96% of individuals in key markets each month, and 71% of individuals on a daily basis. Time spent viewing continues to fall however, with the 2018 average of one hour and 58 minutes down four minutes from 2017, and 21 minutes from 2012.

In Canada, live TV viewing averaged two hours and 16 minutes per day in 2018, a one-minute decline from 2017 and 28 minutes lower than its 2013 peak.

That’s almost certainly being negatively impacted by the rise of streaming services such as Crave, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. According to a recent eMarketer report, for example, 56.3% of Canadians of all ages now watch Netflix via app or website at least once per month.

Other takeaways from the WARC report:

TV effectiveness is undervalued

Despite proof TV is a highly effective medium, advertisers plan to cut their spending there, according to WARC which cited Advertising Research Foundation, sales returns dip $3 for every $1 reduction in TV advertising. But nearly one-third (32%) of brands responding to a WARC study said they intend to cut TV investment in 2019. Less than half (49%) will maintain their level of investment, while only 18% plan to increase TV spend.

Addressable TV offers opportunity…but there’s risk

Worldwide penetration of smart and connected TVs reached 32.5% last year, paving the way for more addressable TV advertising. However, 61.5% of US consumers say they don’t want their personal data collected for more relevant TV advertising, while other concerns include accurate ROI measurement and weighing the benefits of efficiency against increased media and production costs. The idea of also raises the ugly spectre of ad fraud. According to a November report from ad fraud prevention firm Pixalate, 19% of global OTT advertisements are currently invalid, leading to the conclusion that marketers could lose as much as US$10 billion in OTT spend by 2020.


David Brown