Defined by Choice, Driven by Talent – Welcome to 2023

We were recently asked by AAM to reflect on what lessons IAB Canada and its members learned last year and what marketers could look forward to in the coming months. Following are some of our responses with some additional commentary.

To start, we believe that marketers have a lot to look forward to in the new year. We are particularly excited about the amount of choice advertisers will have to reach their audiences as well as the standards that are being built to address any friction and make way for scaled investments.

Entering the third year of moving towards cookie independence, we have seen a tremendous amount of effort being put into testing alternative means to address audiences. 2023 will bring exciting opportunities to leverage AI-infused contextual advertising while driving closer relationships with the publishing community. With “Seller Defined Audiences” picking up traction, advertisers will have new options to buy scaled programmatic inventory that infuses standardized taxonomy allowing for greater brand safety controls.

While the industry continues to perfect addressability methods, advertisers will be met with a surge in inventory across various channels. Ad-supported video is set to expand significantly in the new year which will drive investment levels. It will also impact client and agency relationships as content development strategies begin to place more emphasis on sight, sound, and motion across various channels. Continued efforts to crack measurement will need to account for the growing portfolio of options that enter the ecosystem. The need for consistent methodologies that can be applied to video, audio, DOOH and other channels will become apparent. Discussions will move away from silos of channel-specific metrics towards a more omni-approach to measurement. The industry must focus efforts on open-sourced measurement standards and balance the needs of domestic and global constituents of all sizes and capabilities.


Like the early days of online advertising, our industry is experiencing an innovation spurt. A rush for identity solutions, AI technologies, ad formats and methods to collect and store data is underway. It’s an exciting time for the sector but it is also causing confusion in the marketplace. New layers of technology like “clean rooms” combined with acronyms that still need some explaining like PETs, SDA, MMM to name a few, can create a complexity that could create hesitancy in the marketplace. As these solutions pop-up in our borderless industry, the variances and respective competitive advantages introduce a new set of walled gardens. The industry will be looking for interoperability as a priority and the only way to achieve this, is through the development of standards.

Given the patchwork of privacy laws across the United States, Canada, Europe and many other markets, a standardized platform that can be implemented globally is imperative. While the development of the Global Privacy Platform (GPP) is in v1, the industry is making major strides towards developing a flexible and cross-jurisdictionally responsive system that addresses compliance requirements of dozens of privacy laws. TCF Canada is the first of many frameworks to be rolled out under this platform.

In a climate where regulators are scrutinizing everything from fair competitive marketplaces to rules around data transfers and privacy, the industry must come together to develop acceptable frameworks that can be defended internationally as foundational systems from which codes of practice and scalability can be built.

Working Towards Sustainability

Sustainability would be the word of choice to describe the 2023 North Star for IAB Canada members. While the immediate definition of the term is tied to the industry’s efforts around achieving net zero carbon advertising, the broader meaning touches on much more.

All stakeholders in the digital advertising ecosystem could benefit from making decisions this year that are based on the idea of contributing to the business’s ability to create a sustainable future against several objectives. Success is no longer defined exclusively through financial benchmarks. The rubric has expanded to include KPIs by which an organization can be evaluated from a 360-degree perspective. The partners we choose, the ideologies we stand behind and the practices we deploy play a critical role in the long-term health of the organization.

In today’s media landscape that provides so much choice, it is possible to partner with organizations that have made commitments towards transparency, environmental impact, diversity and inclusion as well as the ethical use of data and advanced self-regulatory practices. In short, we have options.

In a world where brands are increasingly acting as citizens, minding the signals that marketers put out into the universe become points of consumer evaluation. Therefore, choosing solutions, talent, key priorities and projects that contribute towards a sustainable and ethical outcome will set organizations apart. Weighing short-term investments against a longer-term set of targets will secure marketers for years to come.

Mentorship & Culture

The importance of mentorship and culture was at the top of our list of industry lessons learned in 2022. As the industry began to recover from a forced remote workplace, reports of talent challenges began to emerge. In a dynamic industry like ours, it is not unusual to see turnover. However, we have never seen this amount of churn at a time when training was relegated entirely to remote channels. The industry has always identified the human aspect as its core driving force; remote recruitment and training has placed an immense strain on all stakeholders. With limited human connection, the invisible binding force within an organization that accounts for the “secret sauce” behind how “we” do things was missing.

Adding to the training challenges were the longer-term impacts of remote team management and its effect on culture and cohesion. Leaders must learn to develop a hybrid culture that provides equal opportunity to network and learn from different locations. This requires new policies, communication strategies and team culture-building approaches, all while managing the day-to-day business in a competitive environment. It’s a lot of plate-spinning.

While we may have always paid lip service to how critical people are in the advertising sector, this year, the industry learned it.

As we embark on a year filled with new choices, rapidly changing standards, and a mandate to drive sustainable best practices, developing talent, and driving positive culture will be more critical than ever.

See AAM’s publication of these thoughts and those of other industry voices. We invite you to get involved in the conversation this year. 2023 will be an exciting year of advancement in our industry and will require our full attention.