Canadian advertisers may be overspending on digital: eMarketer

Media consumption in Canada has reached a saturation point according to eMarketer‘s annual Canada Time Spent with Media report, with the average person now spending nearly 10 hours a day (9 hours and 50 minutes) with various forms of media.

But while digital media has traditionally been additive to overall media time—driving growth by as much as 3% a year—eMarketer predicts that time spent with media will remain flat through 2021. “Consumers’ media plates are full,” the report states.

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Of  a total 9 hours and 50 minutes on media each day, Canadians will spend an average of 4 hours and 55 minutes (50.1% of the total) with digital content this year—one minute more than they will with traditional media.

Time spent with digital has traditionally outpaced advertising investment, which eMarketer attributed to a variety of “dragging factors” including ineffective early digital ad forms, and a lack of marketer understanding of how to leverage digital’s metrics, which tend to be more granular than those of traditional formats.

This year, however, digital ad spending is expected to account for 56.5% of the total Canadian ad spend, outstripping digital’s share of time spent by approximately 6.4%.

In the report, Rob Youngsenior vice president of planning services at PHD Canada, said the new data suggests that digital has become overdeveloped. “Marketers have not only caught up, but they’re now surpassing the consumer,” said Young. 

The report also suggests that marketers are “overactivating and underbranding” when it comes to digital, mostly because they are “enthralled” with advanced metrics that prove short-term gains.

Video: People 18+ now spend approximately five hours and 33 minutes a day watching video content—a blend of TV and digital. Daily average digital time is expected to increase by five minutes in 2019, directly displacing TV time.

According to eMarketer, Canada’s digital video share is higher than any other country in its forecast, including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, China, South Korea, Japan and India.

Approximately half of the population, more than 18.6 million people, now subscribes to an over-the-top video service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Crave, with viewership up 7% from 2018.

Mobile and social: Mobile, meanwhile, will account for nearly 30% of time spent with media this year, increasing by eight minutes to more than three hours per day. The majority of mobile time, two hours and 39 minutes a day, is spent on smartphones, while tablet time is 1:46.

The report predicts that mobile minutes will continue to grow in the next two years—an additional eight minutes in 2020 and another six minutes in 2021—accounting for more than a third of all media time (33.8%).

Social networks are a key driver of mobile’s growth, with eMarketer saying that Canadians spend an average of one hour and 49 minutes with social, a number that jumps to 3:01 among 16- to 24-year-olds.

The report predicts growth for all of the major social platforms in 2019, led by the photo-sharing platform Instagram with an 8.9% increase to 12.1 million users (Facebook is expected to grow by 1.7% to 19.3 million users).

Brooke Robinson, managing partner at Peersway Nano Influencer Marketing, predicts that Pinterest will be the “next big platform,” noting that Pinterest Canada has opened a Toronto office and is ready to start working with agencies and brands. “You can’t deny that a certain demographic—millennial and Gen X mothers—are all on Pinterest and using it for creative inspiration,” she said.

Television: Despite digital’s growth, eMarketer notes that TV continues to be a strong medium of choice, accounting for an average of three hours and four minutes of daily media consumption. That is down five minutes from the 2018 report, but still accounts for nearly one-third (31.3%) of all media time. eMarketer predicts that time spent with TV will continue to decline—by 1.9% in 2020 and 1.6% in 2021.

Radio: Despite facing continued encroachment by online entertainment sources such as Spotify and podcasts, radio is similarly “engrained” in consumer media time. Canadians will spend an average of one hour and 29 minutes with radio this year,  a 2.4% decline from 2018.

Print: Not surprisingly, print is suffering the largest decline in media consumption, with Canadians expected to spend just 20.4 minutes with newspapers and magazine this year. Print time has shrunk by 85% in the past decade, the report notes, and now represents just 3.5% of consumers’ daily media time.

Screen Shot 2019-06-03 at 5.05.06 PM.pngThe report notes that legacy media is “imbalanced” from an advertising standpoint, with TV’s ad share of 20.6% well behind its 31.3% share of time spent, and radio’s spend share of 10% below its time spent share of 15.2%.

The report also notes a “whopping” imbalance for print, which attracts 12.9% of ad investment despite attracting just 3.5% of time spent.

Print’s ad share in Canada is nearly double that of the U.S. (6.7%), and outpaces that of the U.K. (8.3%), which eMarketer attributed in part to the demographics of audience, which is older and possesses more disposable income.

The report says that it’s also partly explained by public policy in Canada, which has historically “propped up” the industry in the face of global digital competition. Last year, the federal government pledged nearly $600 million over five years to help news organizations adapt to the new digital landscape.


Chris Powell