IAB Canada Summer Status – “We’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat”

Summer is here and while this usually signals a slowdown for our members and an opportunity to take a breather, several issues have our industry forced to have both hands on the wheel. As discussed at our State of the Nation event in May, the digital advertising sector faces several pending regulations that are upending plans both strategically and operationally for all our stakeholders. IAB Canada members are actively leaning in to discuss, learn and act on key policies and changes we are facing.  

Following is an overview of the top issues we’re discussing on the ground: 

Law 25 – Quebec Privacy 

As the September deadline for compliance draws near, members are confounded by the key departures this provincial law takes from existing federal requirements. The guidance provided by Quebec regulators suggests break changes in the consent frameworks needed to process even the most basic data for legitimate business use cases including determining whether an individual is subject to Quebec law to begin with. IAB Canada has requested additional clarity from the CAI and is working hard to update the TCF Canada consent framework to accommodate Law 25 to present the industry with a workable solution by the deadline. We have also conducted a comprehensive study identifying specific issues that are challenging to our sector in preparation for government stakeholder consultation and will be hosting a virtual workshop in the coming weeks.  

Supporting News & Content – Made in Canada 

IAB Canada strongly supports a fair marketplace including efforts towards local media investment. In 2020, we developed a trusted News Allowlist in support of Canadian Journalism. This list was designed to facilitate exceptions to sweeping news blocks to ensure Canadian publishers were included while working to minimize misinformation and deprioritizing non-domestic content. The list can be incorporated into DSPs and SSPs today by accessing it through the IAB Tech Lab tools portal. 

We also launched the Canadian Digital Media Directory listing over 3,000 media outlets including hyper-local publishers and featuring several search parameters. The directory is designed to put digital media investors in direct contact with Canadian media publishers from coast to coast and is updated regularly. 

Restrictions on Marketing Food & Beverage to Children 

Health Canada continues on their path to amend the Food and Drug Act as a part of their Healthy Eating Strategy and commitment to protecting children’s health. Their proposed policy update outlines new restrictions on food advertising primarily directed at children on television and digital media which are similar to those we saw in the now deceased Bill S-228. As their consultation came to a close, industry was busy launching their own set of rules in the form a Code and Guide for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children. The jury is still out as to whether industry efforts will be enough to appease Health Canada, but we would not be surprised to see legislation in the coming year. 

Keeping an Eye on Talent 

Our industry continues to face the effects of an uncertain economy. Precautionary actions, tightened budgets, and downsizing are being felt across all stakeholder groups. While most of the adversity is directly tied to the economic outlook, many members are concerned about AI and its impact on jobs in our sector.  

AI along with machine learning has for many years played an integral role in digital advertising. It has aided in all areas of the business from budget control and optimization to dynamic ad insertions and predictive modeling. While many organizations are now integrating generative AI into their organizations, most of the use cases remain experimental in nature and require hands-on management. IAB Canada is developing resources to better understand the impact of AI across the channels and will have an in-depth analysis in the coming months. In the meantime, we continue to see job opportunities – particularly in intermediate levels.  

Other issues that have our constant attention include: 

  • Bill C-27 (Federal Privacy Bill and AI legislation) which is expected to pass in Q4 
  • Addressability – continued efforts to improve addressability options without third party cookies 
  • DEI – look for a benchmarking study related to our Charter in the coming weeks 
  • Clean(er) Ads – improved ecosystem towards reduced carbon emissions 
  • Accessibility – guidance on developing content and ads with accessibility features 

It’s a busy time for us all and we are facing an unprecedented level of complexity as the industry is in a complete state of transition. We encourage stakeholders to zoom out and think systemically about some of the issues in front of us. Supporting an ecosystem requires broader perspective, longer term planning and strategy. In many cases, we’re going to “need a bigger boat” than the life rafts we tend to create for ourselves in the panic of change.  

While we work together to sort through these challenges and opportunities, we are reminded that this is also the most exciting time to be part of this dynamic industry. We hope that our members take some time to enjoy the lazy days of summer – we’ll need refreshed and inspired thinking when we’re all back at our desks. In the meantime, our team remains available for discussion and consultation on these or any other issues. Reach out!