The Long Game – Evolved Always-On Strategies 

This week, IAB Canada participated in several discussions that touched on the theme of “always-on” media. While most brands understand the value of keeping the lights on across the calendar year, the term has clearly expanded its meaning. The industry finds itself in a perfect storm as it braces for economic uncertainty, re-jigs for privacy and makes genuine strides towards delivering on diversity, equity and inclusion. The good news is that storms create great conditions for strategic planners, and those media investors paying close attention to market conditions while incorporating relevant data, will thrive under pressure. We’ve highlighted some of our favourite recent member discussions that touch on the always-on theme in various ways and have collected some key takeaways. 


We start our “greatest hits” list with business-to-business because it serves as a great example in thought leadership that B2C brands can take to the bank. One of the key challenges for B2B marketers, aside from highly specific and narrow audiences, is the longer sales cycle many brands contend with. A key discussion this week, led by LinkedIn, revolved around the 95-5% rule. With only 5% (roughly) of the universe of most B2B brand prospects ever being “in-market” at any given time, it becomes critical to develop communication strategies for the remaining 95% that will eventually cycle into the market at varying times. This reality makes a strong case for always on, cross-funnel media activity. 

Marketing as a Revenue Center 

The industry continues to lag on leveraging data and analytics to showcase the incrementality that smart media investments generate. Traditionally seen as a cost centre, marketing budgets are among the first line item to get cut in challenging times. Data shows the fallacy of this impulse. Holding internal discussions between marketing and finance departments can help shine a light on the positive impact on immediate revenue as well as longer term gains from staying in market when many brands decide to roll-back budgets. Showing correlations between share of voice and consideration-focused efforts can help CFOs better understand the value of always-on activity. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 

IAB Canada’s DEI working group hosted a great panel discussion this week that touched on the compulsion of brands to focus their efforts on specific calendar-driven messaging to achieve DEI objectives. While focusing efforts on Pride month, Black History month or Diwali may be well-intentioned, the reality is that these audiences exist and are in market 365 days of the year. We found this take-away to be critical for media strategists. Developing a robust DEI strategy is becoming more defined with every discussion our community holds and each time we are reminded of its unmistakable always-on imperative. 

Victims, Survivors and Thrivers 

WARC reported on the Advertising Research Coalition findings of an analysis of data from brands across varying sectors to understand how they fared during the pandemic based on how they moved forward with their respective media strategies. Their findings revealed three categories – victims, survivors and thrivers. Their report went on to define the categories. Victims included businesses operating in physical retail, transport, and entertainment. Survivors were businesses involved in finance, communication and FMCGs. Thrivers were e-commerce – particularly D2C. 

Findings from the study indicate that going dark is not the answer. What we found interesting though, is that the study identifies the opportunity to experiment with varying strategies based on which category your brand finds itself in. While moderating media planning to the sectors’ likely predicament, downturns provide the opportunity to develop conservative strategies that can take advantage of dips in competitive activity (savings) and planning for rebound (remaining top of mind for the right time). 

IAB Canada continues to stay close to the ground in discussions with our community. While we collectively face uncertainty in the coming months, the Canadian digital media community continues to come together to share best practices and thought leadership. Stay connected and get involved! Contact us at to join the conversation.