Canadian social ad spend now 27% of all digital: report

While the overall trend in Canadian digital media remains mostly more of everything—more consumption, spending and advertising—with so many players competing for consumer attention, and user habits always evolving all the time, 2022 also brought more change to the Canadian digital landscape.

With its sweeping overview of all things digital—from platforms and devices, to gaming, ecommerce, and advertising—and data on specific trends and issues, the “Digital 2023: Canada Report” from We Are Social provides a detailed snapshot of Canadian digital media today.

For example, Canadians are spending less time online, about six hours and 35 minutes per day, down 11 minutes from a year ago. But they’re also spending more time on social media, about two hours and five minutes a day, up 12 minutes from last year.

And as Canadians spend more time on social, the data shows that advertisers are following, said Devon Vipond, senior director of research and insight, North America. “When you look at the social media share of digital ad spend, it’s up 10% year over year,” she said. In total, Canadian advertisers spent $3.93 billion on social ads, nearly 27% of all digital ad budgets.

“That suggests that advertisers are really aligning the audience and platform mindset,” she said.

We Are Social partners with digital researcher and analysts Kepios and social media intelligence firm Meltwater to compile the report, which includes a global overview as well as a number of country-specific reports.

The slight decline in time online was actually a worldwide phenomenon, said Kepios CEO Simon Kemp in a video introducing some of this year’s headline findings. That change does not mean the internet is any less important, but that people are being more “purposeful and considered” about how they use it.

“Users want to get more out of their connected time, and they are emphasizing quality over quantity,” he said. “As a result, marketers and content creators will need to work even harder to attract and retain people’s attention in 2023 and ensure that they are always adding value.”

In terms of other notable Canadian findings, TikTok remains red-hot. “The average TikTok user is spending 25 hours 24 minutes a month on the platform,” said Vipond. “That’s up three hours and 15 minutes since 2021.”

TikTok is Canada’s third favourite social platform, behind Facebook and Instagram (it was also Canada’s second most downloaded app last year, only behind the ArriveCAN app).

And while many of the 2022 headlines about Twitter were negative, Canadians apparently weren’t turned off by Elon Musk’s takeover. “One thing that surprised me was that Twitter’s quarter-over-quarter change in potential ad reach actually went up by 6%—So that’s 600,000 people,” said Vipond. At the same time, by most accounts ad spend with Twitter has fallen off dramatically since Musk took over. “There’s this interesting story around user behaviour versus advertiser behaviour,” said Vipond.

Though Canadian advertisers are spending more of their budgets with social channels, they are still behind the rest of the world—where nearly one in three digital ad dollars goes to social media, according to Kemp. Despite some suggestions that social media may have peaked in popularity, that is far from true, he said. Social media is taking more dollars from search and more from digital overall than ever before. “Don’t fall for the click bait, because social media is still very much alive,” he said.

10 big numbers on the state of Canadian digital marketing in 2023

  • $14.66 billion: total digital ad spend including social media (+14% from last year); total ad spending including offline channels was $19.32 billion (+10.1%);
  • 35.1% of internet users 16 to 64 say they discover new brands and products via search engines, compared to 27.8% from ads on TV; 25% from ads on social; and 15.9% in apps;
  • $2.88 billion: total spending on digital banners ads (+9.4% from last year); 11.6% of internet users have clicked on a banner ad in the past 30 days;
  • 23.3%: increase in influencer marketing, by far the largest increase in digital ad spend, although the total spend of just $445.5 million trails most other digital options, including online classifieds at $452 million;
  • 42% of internet users decline cookies “at least some of the time”;
  • 10.5% of internet users “feel represented in the advertising” they see;
  • 84.2%: programmatic advertising’s share of total digital ad spend;
  • 20.65 million: total potential reach of ads on Facebook (53.5% of total population) down 1.2% from the year before, compared to 33.10 million potential reach of ads on YouTube (85.7% of total population);
  • 15.9 million: potential ad reach on Instagram, compared to 10.75 million on TikTok (age 18+ only);
  • 35.9% percentage of female Twitter ad reach, compared to 77.7% female Pinterest ad reach.




David Brown