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Mobile ad spend growth in Canada or how marketers are blindsided again

Jul 17, 2015 / by StackAdapt


A downside of being in close proximity to a large market such as the United States is that the researchers’ spotlight is focused on that market. If you were to search online for terms like ‘digital ad spend growth in Canada’ you would find a negligible number of eMarketer graphs and a marginally higher number of articles trying to make sense of them. This is exactly why we find every new bit of research so fascinating.


In this piece we’ll take a look at mobile ad spend in Canada and try to make sense of its growth. The topic is particularly relevant considering that last year, mobile phone usage topped desktop web surfing pretty much across the board -- in Canada, the US and China to name just a few (TheStar, CNN, The Next Web).


With a rapid growth in mobile usage, advertiser digital spends start to catch up. According to eMarketer, the mobile ad spend will account for nearly 50% of all digital ad spend in Canada by 2016, and 2017 will be the first year the majority of digital spend in Canada tilts to mobile.


The marketing community has been forced to rethink the role mobile ought to play in their marketing strategies for a couple of reasons: perhaps because people now spend more time on mobile phones than on desktop, or because companies like Facebook pull nearly 70% of their revenues from mobile.


To understand the speed at which things have turned around, we can look at the eMarketer research. 


In May 2013, the outlook was quite pessimistic. According to eMarketer, “mobile ad spending still lags in Canada,” and the research forecast $703 million to be spent on mobile in 2015. “Dedicated mobile budgets, especially in Canada, are rare,” suggest the report.

However, 16 brief months later, in September 2014, things looked very different. “Mobile Internet ad spend skyrockets in Canada,” exclaimed the eMarketer research headline.


The mobile ad spend in 2015 is forecast to hit $1.14 billion, which is 61.5% higher than was forecast just 16 months prior.


To understand the 180-degree change in the outlook on mobile ad spend growth, we ought to look at the fundamental trends that fuel advertiser spend on mobile. According to the research done by Google, 56% of adults in Canada were using a smartphone in 2013, up from 33 % in early 2012 (CBC).


Access to smartphones has enabled seamless mobile Internet browsing and Canadians are now ahead of countries like the United States, UK and Germany in average monthly page views per user. According to the research by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, that number was 3,731 pages per user in 2014.




To put the number in perspective, in 2010 an average monthly page view per user was 1,116. This growth is largely attributed to social networks and mobile browsing.


Looking at the staggering smartphone adoption rate, it makes sense that my advertisers now see this as an excellent opportunity to reach consumers around the clock, on-the-go. What’s interesting is how quickly the market has gone from having mobile as a separate budget on a media plan, to treating it as an integral, inseparable part. After well over five years of the market talking about how big mobile will be, it now accepts that it is big. VERY BIG.


With evolving cross-platform targeting, new innovative formats such as native ad formats, expect the terms ‘desktop’ and ‘mobile’ to come even closer together and become one super powerful channel to reach consumers.  


Topics: Blog Posts

Written by StackAdapt

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