Elections Advertising – A Social Affair?

As the 2021 election comes to a close with the Liberal government surviving but unable to secure the majority vote, we are already looking at the implications on our industry.  For the second time, IAB Canada provided subscribers with a daily report on campaign issues throughout the election period to help facilitate the obligations of publishers to report political ads in their registries. The database solution was also designed to help advertisers and agencies, particularly those involved in social responsibility or charitable organization ads,  to avoid inadvertent block-outs on platforms, like Google, that were not accepting political ads. 

Leading up to the election, we continued our discussions with Elections Canada and had hoped for some changes to the cumbersome obligations that C-76 had imposed on the digital media publishing community. With Covid-19 concerns taking center stage over the past 2 years across all government agencies, the work on providing more clarity and guidance (that may have provided some respite to our members) was unfortunately delayed. 

Several news outlets have reported that the role played by digital media platforms for this elections cycle was unprecedented. With social distancing still in play and almost two years of virtual communications practice, leaders and their party members were forced to operate digitally and to rethink their traditional campaign strategies to reach their audiences, while casting a wider net to rally the votes.  

Taking a page out of the recent US elections, Canadian candidates leveraged everything from Twitter and Instagram to Twitch, Snapchat and TikTok to connect with younger audiences that remain tied to their virtual channels, even as pandemic-related restrictions lift. We anticipate that politicians will continue to use these channels as a core part of their communications strategy and that we will see more sophisticated campaigning played out on each respective channel. 

As Canadian politicians learn to be funny and cool on social media, our focus remains on a level playing field for the online advertising industry. While user generated content may be less hindered by election regulations requiring reporting of media investments, news platforms that are made in Canada remain on the hook. Canadian publishers are operationally taxed to create registries, track ads and jump through workflow hoops to capitalize on national elections that would naturally drive revenue for Canadian media platforms. 

IAB Canada remains committed to advocating for an even playing field for digital media publishers in Canada. We look forward to continued discussions with Elections Canada and other Liberal government contacts to ensure that any regulations that impact the digital advertising sector are developed with full and fair perspective of the industry and its +$9B impact on the Canadian GDP. 

If you would like to participate in our policy discussions, please reach out to policy@iabcanada.com