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First Online Ad Insights Will Help Canadian Marketers Yield Better Results
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First Online Ad Insights Will Help Canadian Marketers Yield Better Results

Internet use among Canadians is high and growing. According to a 2012 eMarketer report, Canada had the highest level of online engagement in the world that year, as 77 percent of its population was engaging online. With such heavy Internet use, it’s essential that advertisers understand the impact of their online campaigns. And as the importance of online campaigns increases, many brand marketers are making efforts to boost the reach and resonance of their ads.

In today’s evolving digital market, marketers need to do more than simply post a message and hope people see it. That’s because success online requires precision, especially when some consumers are easier to reach than others, as indicated by findings from a new Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings™ study that looked at the percentage of ads from 280 campaigns in Canada that reached their desired audiences. The study, which delivered 260 million impressions in total from the auto, consumer packaged goods (CPG), entertainment, financial services and retail sectors, highlights several key findings about online reach, audience demographics and campaign resonance.

Impressions Don’t Indicate Reach or Frequency

One of the key takeaways from the study is that high impression delivery doesn’t necessarily equal high unique audience delivery. For example, several campaigns served an equal amount of impressions—10 million—but had widely varied reach levels. In fact, the reach among the campaigns’ desired audiences ranged from 2 percent to 36 percent, demonstrating that marketers can’t deduce reach from impressions alone.

Online Reach Varies Widely in Canada

Desired audience reach in Canada among some key demographics, like males 25-54, proved to be rather high. Campaigns intended for other key demographics, however, are lagging behind, particularly those focused on females. Specifically, campaigns for females ages 18-49 only reached their desired audience 35 percent of the time, while campaigns for all persons ages 18-49 reached their desired audience 80 percent of the time.

Average Desired Audience Reach for Specific Ages and Genders

Age 18+ 25-54 18-49
Age span (years)  – 30 32
Persons 92% 54% 80%
Females 31% 35%
Males 43%
Source: Nielsen

Reach Rates are Similar Across Sectors, Languages; Limited Overall

Compared with reach by demographics, reach rates across English and French language campaigns were much more similar, as English language campaigns’ reach was only 2 percentage-points higher than the reach of the French language campaigns. Likewise, the reach rates were similar across advertiser categories, ranging from 48 to 61 percent for each individual sector. CPG campaigns were the most successful at 61 percent, but, for the most part, the sectors performed similarly.

Desired Audience Reach by Industry

Industry On-Target %
Auto 54%
CPG 61%
Financial 53%
Pharma 48%
Retail 57%
Source: Nielsen

Despite having similar rates of success, most campaigns had limited online reach. Three out of four campaigns reached less than 10 percent of Canadian citizens. With such low numbers, it’s clear that there’s significant opportunity for brand marketers to increase online campaign weight by increasing online campaign size. Advertisers can use this insight to run larger campaigns, therefore increasing opportunity to reach their desired audiences.

Implications for the future

After one year of Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings in Canada, we can see that reaching a desired audience isn’t always easy, and reach isn’t equal across all age and gender breaks. But we take away—and marketers should as well—that buying and selling gross rating points (GRPs) can make reaching your desired audience much easier. By buying and selling GRPs, marketers can reach a greater portion of the desired audience with the same budget.

For example, 15 of the 280 Canadian campaigns were randomly selected in order to assess their performance. Upon review, Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings reports were used by clients to shift their campaign impressions from low-performing sites to high-performing sites, which allowed advertisers to maximize on-target impressions by an increased 18 percent.

When marketers can see exactly how a campaign is performing, they can leverage the information to buy and sell GRPs for an increased reach of their desired audience.