Canadian digital spend has surpassed TV for the first time: IAB Canada

Canadian brands spent $3.5 billion on digital advertising last year – roughly $100 million more than they spent on television.

Those figures come from IAB Canada‘s annual internet advertising spend report, which aggregates marketer budgets from across the country. The figure for digital spending has been revised upwards from the IAB’s projections last year.


Digital ad spend grew 14% over 2012, much more than the 9% the IAB predicted. Overall TV spend declined 2% in the same period. Digital now makes up 31% of overall advertising spend in Canada.

Only a handful of countries have seen digital beat the benchmark set by TV advertising. In the U.S., digital has outspent broadcast and network television individually, but not combined. In the U.K., often considered the most digital-forward world market, internet spend beat TV in 2009.

“Given that Canadians rank among the most active internet users in the world it comes as no surprise that the largest share of spend is on digital platforms,” said IAB Canada President Chris Williams.

The IAB survey has been tracking digital spend for 15 years, and has charted the medium’s rise from virtually nothing, Williams said. He sees the results of the study as validation of the IAB’s efforts to build up the digital ad industry.

Based on marketers’ estimated budgets, the IAB predicts digital spend will grow another 13% by the end of this year, topping $4 billion.

The report found that growth was bolstered by mobile spending, which nearly tripled in the same period, to $443 million. Mobile now makes up a 13% share of all digital spending, compared to just 5% in 2012. Video also had a significant impact, growing 58%. Search remained the dominant web format, with advertisers spending $1.7 billion on it.

Williams said that in future years, the study will likely break down mobile spend into search, display and video, to give a better idea of how each of those categories are faring across screens.

The IAB’s annual internet spend study is conducted by Ernst & Young. Although released relatively late in the year, it is considered to be one of the most accurate measurements of total digital spending.

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