Top of our agenda: 3 issues to watch in 2014

January 13th, 2014 | ACA Team,

By Bob Reaume, ACA

It being January, every advertising pundit and their cousin are busy doing their look at ‘The New Year Ahead.’ But because the ACA’s focus is on issues that matter to client-marketers, I think you’ll find this list a bit different from most everything else you’ll read out there.

The ACA monitors many issues, but for today, I’ll focus on three that have migrated to the top of our agenda.

Stands for ‘Online Behavioural Advertising’ and ‘Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada’. OBA is a modern 21st century method of targeting that advertisers can use to communicate relevant ads more effectively to consumers. Consumers get ads that they are more likely to be interested in and advertisers get a much more effective and efficient targeting tool. But just as the industry has always practiced responsible self-regulation with legacy (‘traditional’ if you prefer) advertising media, this more modern method must also be done responsibly.

That’s why ACA took the lead and set up the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada which is comprised of the 8 major marketing/advertising/media organizations in Canada (ACA, ICA, CMDC, IAB, CMA, AAPQ, QMDC, & ASC). And that last one (ASC) is important, because just as with traditional media where ASC administers several rigorous self-regulatory codes of advertising practice, they will also set up the compliance monitoring program for OBA/DAAC .

Companies signing on to use the ‘AdChoices icon’ in their online ads will have to abide by six principles of responsible advertising. Over 25 companies have already joined the program and many dozens more are expected in 2014. If you would like more information visit

We’ve seen some very large media mergers in the last several years (Shaw/CanWest; Bell Globemedia/CHUM; Rogers/City; Bell/CTV; Bell/Astral; etc.) And for each one, ACA elicits input from our media committee to inform our representations to the Competition Bureau and if applicable, the CRTC. The goal, as always, is to maintain a healthy and, especially, a competitive marketplace for advertising time and space.

But now, with this summer’s mega-merger of Publicis and Omnicom, the focus has moved to advertising services offered by agencies. With this merger now approved, it instantly creates the largest advertising agency in Canada (and in the world, by the way) and controls 43% of all media billings in this country. A concern for advertisers all on its own, to be sure.

Why? To begin with, it’s pretty hard to answer the question “Where’s the value in the merger for clients?” But doubly concerning is some of the hot rumors of other pending mergers, the hottest of which would see WPP and IPG hooking up. If that were to happen, WPP/IPG would control 44% of media billings in Canada, and also claim bragging rights of being the largest ad agency in the world. Simple math: 43 + 44 = 87. And 87% of media billings in Canada in the hands of only two owners would start to look a little unhealthy, don’t you think?

Broadcasters would like to run full commercial load versions of live shows in Video-On-Demand (VOD) for 7 days post airing and throw that post-live playback audience back into the original live show. This creates problems for advertisers with past-date promotions for one thing, but can become especially problematic if the VOD airing runs in say the 14th week of a talent cycle, and tips the advertiser into a whole new talent residual cycle.

VOD is valuable inventory, don’t get me wrong, but we just think that it should be sold separately (so advertisers can control when and where their spots run) or better still, offered to advertisers via a more modern method called addressable TV. Seems to us, the increased targeting and personalization power of this more 21st century method of TV advertising delivery could help legacy broadcasting better compete with digital while offering advertisers a better product. So what are we waiting for?