Dear IAB Canada Members and Canadian Digital Media Community,
As 2021 comes to a close, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a year that has brought our industry together in meaningful ways. After an unprecedented health crisis that left our economy reeling in uncertainty and cautionary activity, 2021 left us with the extraordinary task of recovery and re-imaging for the future. All stakeholders in our value chain were impacted by the pandemic and many are still working through its latent effects. Our members have reported on several challenges facing their businesses. However, they have also shared great wins in recovery, innovation, and adaptation to the new realities we are presented with for the year ahead.
Digital advertising has fared well through the crisis. Advertisers have recognized the value of flexibility and the undeniable return on investment the channel offers. Most publishers have experienced near to full recovery from the previous year and are holding strong into Q4. eCommerce continues to grow in Canada and with it, an increased demand for online advertising to drive the sector. New developments in Digital out of Home and Audio have invigorated creative opportunities while traditional digital channels are being used more intelligently to capture upper funnel activity. Meanwhile, we are seeing great progress in cross-media measurement as new capabilities and technologies emerge.
Moving towards cookie independence, the industry is working tirelessly to adapt to new means to addressing audiences online. Contextual advertising has won the attention of advertisers which bodes well for more robust, digital content strategies. Privacy-first solutions like UID2 and FloC have gained traction and are moving closer to testing, providing much needed confidence for the future of personalization and future-proofing the medium.
While tighter Canadian privacy laws were not passed this year at the federal level, the passing of Bill 64 addressing Quebec’s provincial privacy legislation has been received as an early warning of things to come. We must level-up our practices to ensure the responsible growth of our industry. IAB Canada continues to work towards the TCF framework as part of the IAB Global Privacy platform, designed to bring a consistent and recognized approach to consent-based advertising. In the meantime, we are pleased to see the industry getting ready by engaging with consent management strategies and partners to help prepare for inevitable changes to the law.
The digital advertising industry was not immune to “the big quit”. Our members have reported on talent shortages since Q1 and our sector continues to struggle to fill roles. The talent shortage is being felt across all stakeholder groups and across all departments and levels. The employee market is sure to have a knock-on effect on rising costs of inventory and services in the coming year. Importantly, as organizations sort through their new virtual, in-person or hybrid office policies, we will see increased attention towards building culture and integration to match our new ways of working.
We have seen great strides in the industry’s efforts on the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion front. Many of our members have charted paths forward and are taking real action for change. As evidenced in the many participants in our IAB Canada DEI charter, this was a top priority in 2021 and we look forward to seeing continued efforts in the new year.
In early Q3 we began to follow the supply chain shortages that would eventually impact our sector. Online retailers have had to adapt their media activity to reflect inventory issues and as with every challenge, this need has driven innovation in martech solutions as well as data analysis. We anticipate a growing lumascape of tech solutions in 2022 that help automate media activity and allow advertisers to calibrate spending with volatile inventory fluctuations.
Another emerging issue for our industry is the demand for environmental action. Our entire value chain is looking to make great commitments towards net zero carbon media. IAB Canada is working with our members and our global network to help define this more practically for our industry. The good news is that IAB Canada and IABs around the world have been making a positive impact with every innovation towards supply chain clean-up. A supply chain with less bad actors and fraudulent ad bids coupled with elegant coding results in less computational power wasted. Our efforts in a safe and efficient supply chain will continue in the new year and we expect this to have a significant win-win effect for advertisers as they see higher efficiency while significantly reducing their carbon footprint.
There is much work ahead in the coming months and we will be busy over the next few weeks sharpening our keyboards and further developing and improving our members service offerings. I’d like to thank our IAB Canada community for supporting all of our initiatives this year. Together, we have made great strides towards securing our industry for responsible growth for the years to come and we look forward to continued momentum on all fronts.
On behalf of the IAB Canada team and its Board of Directors, I would like to wish you all a healthy and joyous holiday season. We look forward to seeing you in 2022!