By Billy Poole
Strategizing and buying media in Canada is nothing like the US. And for brands and agencies, it can be difficult to navigate. And the challenges don’t start with just the buying of media. They start in language, culture, heritage, and history.
Language and Geography of Canada
A key thing to understand about Canada is that it is unusual for language and geography. While there are many similarities between the US and Canada, there are equally many differences. Yes, the main language is English, but Canada is a bilingual English/French culture. The province of Quebec which has the second largest city by population in the country (Montreal) is dominated by French culture. Most Quebecois speak French as the primary language.
The size of the country’s land mass makes Canada the second largest country in the world behind Russia. Although most images of Canada associate the country with wide open rural vistas, the Canadian population is largely urban. Over a third of the country live in three cities, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver even though the country’s 10 provinces and three territories comprise 3.8 million square miles of land!
The Media Players in Canada
There are many nuances of the Canadian oligarchical media landscape. In Canada, the vast majority of media inventory is negotiated between a few major media suppliers (Bell Media, Corus, Rogers, Quebecor, CBC etc) and holding companies like GroupM.
Every year, 80% of all Canadian media inventory is bought by a few large multinational agency groups. Any independent agency or brand that is not a part of these large agencies is stuck in the unfortunate position of scrambling to find and buy the remain 20% of inventory with higher rates and less availability.
In Canada, agencies act as principal, and the only way for marketers to access better than marketplace rates and services is to partner with large multinational agencies. This is especially a problem for traditional media (TV, Radio, Outdoor) where an erosion in audience has translated to less available inventory. Unless an agency can compete with the millions of dollars that are negotiated in high volume deals, Canadian media suppliers will not provide smaller agencies with a competitive rate/service in an effort maintain their revenue yield.
Billy Poole is Vice President at +49 Media.
+49 Media is a division of Mindshare and Group M. Group M, part of WPP, is one of the largest media buyers in Canada. +49 helps brands and independent agencies in the U.S. access Group M media inventory while providing valuable market intelligence and a one-stop-shop for buying media with all Canadian media suppliers. Since the division’s launch in April 2019, +49 helped agency partners save between 15-55% of media value while providing an effective media plan for targeting their consumer and navigating the complex Canadian media landscape.