New CMA Committee aims to unpack the changing adtech landscape

Oct 26, 2021
Adtech Thought Leadership

A few months ago, the CMA kicked off a brand new Adtech Committee, tasked with unpacking the major privacy and technology developments reshaping the digital advertising ecosystem.

With developments moving quickly – from the phasing out of third-party cookies on the web to major privacy announcements impacting mobile and e-mail marketing – the Committee is looking to calm the waters by developing tools and resources so Canadian marketers can stay resilient and prepared.

The Committee includes 12 marketing executives from leading brands, agencies and technology companies – from HSBC and Walmart to Google and Snap Inc.

The CMA’s Fiona Wilson, Director of Government Relations, sat down with the Committee’s Co-Chairs, David Kavanagh, Head of Marketing Technology at BMO and Drew Weicker, Vice President, Sales, North America at DoubleVerify, to find out more about the new Committee’s plans in the months ahead.

Fiona: What are some of the shifts in the adtech landscape the Committee is exploring?

Drew: There are many topics impacting the landscape and many in the marketplace have expressed a desire for guidance and transparency around how best to navigate the seemingly increasing levels of adtech complexity. Of major interest are the updates to evolving technology solutions, and the impact of Canadian (federal and provincial) and global privacy updates and system changes by some of the markets’ largest players. Across the board, marketers are looking for tech solutions to assist in overcoming these disruptions, and offerings that enable scalable advertising quality and continue to drive performance. 

One specific focus of the CMA Adtech Committee will be to provide access to resources that will help Canadian marketers to better understand these landscape changes, enabling the industry to prepare and adapt to today’s evolving marketplace.

David: I am totally aligned with Drew, there is so much change happening in this space that it’s critical we help provide marketers with a way to digest and understand what it means for them and their business. Beyond the rapidly changing privacy ecosystem, the adtech technology landscape is also changing quickly. The supply side of the ad business is trying to navigate and react to what’s happening with browser vendors and it seems that each month, there’s an announcement from device manufactures about how they will be leading the way to protect consumers privacy. Trying to make sense of these shifts and separating the signals from the noise is going to present a real challenge for digital marketers. One of our goals as a Committee is to help the marketing community make sense of it all and provide practical tools to help navigate the sea of change ahead. 

Fiona: How prepared do you think Canadian marketers are for these changes?

David: I think Canadian marketers are well positioned to react to the changes. They just need the right information at their disposal. We have the benefit of our unique culture with so much international expertise and diversity in addition to our strong industry partners and associations like the CMA. Marketers who have experience working with partners in Europe or the US have already needed to balance the outcomes of their business with a new privacy forward tech landscape. To modern marketers, change is the only constant, so I think we’ll handle these changes in stride and continue to do amazing work.

Drew: In my experience, many Canadian marketers are asking the right questions around the upcoming changes to the digital advertising ecosystem. While the impact will vary based on the role each individual marketer plays, exploring possible solutions in anticipation of these marketplace shifts is an important first step in preparing an organization to have their systems aligned to the new requirements.

Fiona: What role do marketers play in building an ad ecosystem that has the trust it needs to continue to thrive?

David: My first thought is to make sure marketers are educating themselves on what’s happening so they can stay on the right side of the law, and adjust to major industry privacy developments. Stay engaged in the work the CMA is doing and don’t be afraid to ask for help and clarity if there is something you are unsure about. I’d also encourage marketers to frequently revisit and think about the experience they are providing for their customers. It’s easy to get caught up trying to be first to do something unique, but the stakes for a brand’s reputation have never been higher. Throughout the pandemic, many organizations have shifted to a digital-only relationship with their clients. In those very transactional relationships, the pillars of trust can be eroded quickly so always be mindful of the currency you are trading with your customers and ensure you are delivering value.  

Drew: In an ad-supported ecosystem, the marketing community plays an integral role in ensuring that the marketplace operates in a manner that delivers a fair value exchange. Marketers have a responsibility to align their investments with content and content providers that deliver against their targets and goals.

Content distributors and adtech providers also play an important role in ensuring that the inventory delivered is done so in accordance with the spirit of the marketers’ expectations. Trust is lost when expectations and delivery are misaligned. (Happiness equation example: Happiness = Reality - Expectations.)

Fiona: What are the kinds of resources the Committee wants to create for marketers? What does success look like for this new group over the next 12 months?

Drew: There are many topics for the Committee to tackle — from new regulatory updates that impact the digital ad community to macro-operating procedures that affect the way that ads are bought and sold. Our primary focus will be on gathering and distributing the resources needed to help marketers address some of their biggest challenges.

We are also working on developing a blog series that will enable everyone in the Canadian marketing community to benefit from the insights surfaced during our sessions. In fact, we welcome the marketing community’s questions, and suggestions for new topics you want us to tackle in the series.

David: I think Drew covered our expectations well. My only add-on would be that we’ll be doing our best to help businesses and marketers of all sizes be successful through these changes. Whether you are managing a $20MM national digital ad budget or a $1K local campaign for a client, these changes will affect all of us so it’s critical we deliver something of value to the entire marketing community.

What’s Next?

The Adtech Committee will continue to meet monthly, and marketers can visit the CMA’s Adtech webpage for new updates and resources.

CMA members interested in applying to join the Committee can do so here.




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