IAB Canada eCommerce – Full Circle Shopping Recap

This week, IAB Canada held its eCommerce – Full Circle Shopping online event. Several speakers took the stage to share insights on the state of retail marketing and media in Canada. The takeaways from the packed agenda were highly practical and provided some clear direction to advertisers and publishers looking to capitalize on this burgeoning economy.

The following are some key insights:

Eric Morris, Managing Director, Head of Retail, Google Canada gave an optimistic presentation about the current market reality. With several conflicting media reports about the state of the economy, Morris pointed towards the data – Canadians are shopping online. In fact, total eCommerce sales in 2022 to date total $87B Cdn. representing 15% of retail sales. As the new gateway to commerce, digital behaviors are in line with 86% of shoppers discovering brands online while browsing. Search data indicates that Canadians remain increasingly undecided as consumers and are searching for items on a category basis much more frequently than via direct brand searches. The opportunity for advertisers to gain market share was made remarkably clear.

Morris went on to explain how automation against business objectives starts with more clearly defined parameters. Refining approaches towards factors like new customer acquisition vs. risk of churn were cited as examples.

Further, holiday shopping was described as a marathon and not a sprint. With 1 in 5 Canadians starting their shopping in September/October, timing is everything. While holiday demand ramps up and peaks by category, getting a head start to manage costs and prepare for the anticipated 300% increase in searches for Black Friday is a good plan.

Is Omnichannel Ever Achievable in Canada?  

Seraj Bharwani, Chief Strategy Officer, Acuity Ads spoke on the hot topic of Omni channel marketing and the complexity it entails. Bharwani discussed the term “omni” and how it commands some degree of continuity and that it implies that advertising activity is guiding the user through multiple platforms and channels according to the path to purchase. 

The challenges faced by marketers to achieve the benefits of omni marketing today are largely due to media fragmentation and the inability to accurately know how each dollar spent is generating a return. Addressability in the absence of third-party cookies has a clear premium attached to it. Referencing the new forms of addressability, Bharwani spoke of a shrinking inventory pool and pointed to refined contextual advertising as an excellent option and reminded the audience that first-party data is critical for the way forward for marketers. 

Ryan Fuss, SVP, Stingray Advertising took us on an in-store journey. Citing that 50% of shoppers say brick and mortar experiences are how they feel most connected to the brands they love. Fuss made clear that a brand’s in-store presence matters. Digital has changed the game for OOH audio advertising, and he went on to explain that brands can now leverage the best of both worlds and turn proximity into purchases. 

Taking the audience through powerful case studies, Fuss demonstrated how in-store audio solutions like Stingray’s can deliver upper funnel objectives while driving lower funnel shopper marketing outcomes. In one of the cases shared, 75% shoppers who recall hearing an audio ad say they bought the specific product as a direct result of hearing the ad. Furthermore, shoppers who heard the audio ad in the past 2 weeks are 90% more likely to say they will consider purchasing the product in the future vs. those who do not recall hearing the audio ad. 

A great panel discussion featuring top retail media players in Canada – Home Depot, Loblaw, and Best Buy discussed the retail media opportunity. By providing advertisers with access to exceptional first-party data stores, retailers are well positioned to help drive full-funnel media exposure. The group was bullish about their ability to build stronger partnerships beyond the physical store to deliver more robust marketing services to their existing client base and as a knock-on, to non-endemic advertisers. 

 As for the future, the panel pointed to self-serve platform access to advertisers as well as expanded media offerings ranging from programmatic on-site and off-site as well as social media platforms. 

IAB Canada is working with these and other retail media working group members to develop the retail media guide as part of an effort to drive awareness of this exciting new media channel. 

Sarah Owen, Industry Manager of eCommerce at Meta Canada gave some practical advice for the holiday shopping season. Her talk covered everything from creating custom content and personalization to diversifying the creative mix and even delving into augmented reality. 

Lucas Béland, CEO and Founder,Goloot and Paresh Vadavia, co-founder and CEO, OPM Pros by Gen3 Marketing had a fireside chat to get us re-thinking customer acquisition and innovation.  

Getting into a deep dive on affiliate marketing, the approach was described as one that requires few resources but with commitment, huge upside potential. There’s more to this tried-and-true channel than meets the eye. Affiliate channels can and should be controlled and managed to stay on targets. 

Jed Schneiderman, VP and Country Manager, Jebbit & Sonia Carreno, President, IAB Canada had a great fireside chat about Getting Personal with First-Party Data.

With first-party data being top-of-mind to marketers, Schneiderman urged advertisers to take the time to get to know their customers by leveraging technology and having meaningful conversations with them to understand their preferences and later, move to deliver on that learning. Contrary to the current mainstream practice of offering discounts upon entry to an eCommerce site, marketers need to reflect on a value exchange that moves towards driving some return on the customer’s loyalty  

Last but certainly not least, a stellar agency panel unpacked the state of striking a balance to the path to purchase. Seema Shah, Managing Director, Head of eCommerce, Cairns Oneil, Carsen Kendel, Account Director, Vovia, Emmanuel Lafleur-Velasco, VP of eCommerce, Reprise Canada, and Courtney Strouthos, Strategy Director, Cossette Media spoke to the power of retail media and how essential it has become for brands.

Citing the importance of leveraging first-party data, the group felt that bringing quality traffic to the website is critical and that removing as much friction as possible from the shopping journey is a number one priority.   

Engaging retail media at different stages of the customer journey shows great promise for brands and the group agreed that buyers must respect that retail media can play different roles in the journey. For non-endemic brands, the panel felt that the opportunity for targeting is limitless, and that retail media does not need to stand alone but can be included in media mix. They felt that the growth of retail media would continue as the privacy landscape is pressuring marketers to gather first-party data like emails which can be leveraged for use with data clean rooms to crack meaningful reach in a fragmented media environment.  

IAB Canada would like to thank all the speakers and attendees for the exceptional content and engagement throughout this year’s eCommerce event. We would also like to thank the many students who attended the session. 

We look forward to working with our Working Group to deliver the Guide to Retail Media as part of our commitment to driving awareness of the tremendous opportunities this channel offers. 

To join the conversation or participate in our working groups, please reach out to committees@iabcanada.com