By Pippa Nutt

Now that another hectic holiday season is behind us and we have ushered in the New Year, we can’t help but wonder what 2015 has in store for the world of Direct Response.

If the last quarter of 2014 is any indication, it does appear that the tides have shifted. Internet spending has finally surpassed traditional broadcast in Canada, eyeballs are more fragmented than ever, new ad formats are popping up all over the place, and the digital buy-and-sell landscape is rapidly changing.

How will your next DR campaign stay relevant in a constantly changing media environment? By following these key trends…

1. Digital Disruption

If the last year has taught us anything at all, it’s that change is perpetual. Digital is no longer just a tactic; it’s an entire ecosystem, and it’s disrupting all traditional modes of advertising, including direct response. Canadians want what they want, when they want it – now more than ever. With people spending more time than ever online, and less time tuning into first-run programming, traditional broadcasters are struggling with the very real reality of becoming irrelevant in the not- too- distant future. But this same reality is fueling progress and reinvention. Networks are redefining themselves as more than just a broadcaster, as can be seen with the launch of Bell’s streaming platform CraveTV and Shomi, the joint venture between Shaw and Rogers . While Netflix dwarfs these fast followers in Canada, the move away from “traditional” to “holistic” media is a step in the right direction.

What to look for in 2015: Integrated advertising opportunities with Crave and Shomi. Neither platform is currently ad-supported, but that will likely change over the next year.

2. Digital Analytics Gets Sophisticated

Predictive modeling, regression analysis, first click, last click and time decay: in 2015, technology will continue to push the needle on cross-channel attribution. While many marketers are leading the charge and continuing to test and innovate, others are losing significant ground. The reality is that a huge gap still exists in accurately attributing the response influence between offline and online marketing tactics. Google even launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for their “Analytics Academy” to help educate marketers on this very topic. If you are still using a vanity URL or backslash in your DRTV spots, or – worse yet – not attributing any web response to your DRTV campaigns, it’s time to catch up.

What to look for in 2015: With the expanding mix of tactics, channels and devices, and an increasing pressure to measure true ROI, 2015 will see an even greater emphasis on measurement and attribution. The demand for analytics experts and data-focused marketers is bigger than ever.

3. Programmatic Takes Centre Stage

Programmatic direct, direct guaranteed programmatic, real- time bidding, demand-side platform (DSP), and the trading desk – just when advertisers got comfortable enough to put away the cheat sheet on publishers versus networks versus exchanges, programmatic moved in to shake things up again.

Over the last year, programmatic buying has increasingly taken center stage, with spending expected to increase another 50% in 2015. It’s rapidly changing the digital media landscape, with expansion into video and mobile. Programmatic is also fueling the shift of advertising dollars from traditional channels such as broadcast to digital. Simply put, the control and efficiency are hard to beat.

What to look for in 2015: How programmatic will extend into more traditional marketing channels, such as TV, and how programmatic native will evolve.

4. Online Video Advertising: Still in Its Infancy

It’s no surprise that the Canadian online video market will continue to thrive in 2015, expected to surpass $255 million in ad spend – more than 50% higher than in 2013. Canadian online video watchers outpace the U.S

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. in terms of online consumption, video engagement, and smartphone penetration. According to Comscore, Canada has over 90% of web users consuming online video – about 4.5 hours of it per week.

This lucrative market is not without its challenges, which are amplified by the fact that more and more brand advertisers continue to shift more of their traditional TV budgets over to premium online video inventory. The measurement of online video advertising’s core metrics is still in its infancy and, despite the high viewership, some sources report that more than half of video ads purchased do not even have the opportunity to be seen (source: eMarketer). That harsh reality, combined with the fact that premium pre-roll CPM s are so extortionate, means you want to walk before you run in the quest to find the next big thing.

What to look for in 2015: Online video metrics will get more sophisticated in 2015. Measurement and transparency will also become key areas of focus for online video advertisers in the coming year.

5. Native on the Rise

Personally, I think native advertising makes complete sense (sorry, John Oliver!), and – having run our share of native ad campaigns – I also know they can be very effective. Even Google’s first approach to search ads was, in fact, a native one, where you could not distinguish between paid and earned content. Despite the naysayers, and those who think editorial’s objective is solely to inform and not to sway, native continues to rise amongst the masses as a unique way to reach new audiences – free from clutter. The reality is: audiences don’t seem to care who put the content there, as long as it’s good content.

What to look for in 2015: Content, not advertising, will rule in 2015 – providing no one steps in to interfere. Monitoring how regulations evolve within the industry will be key.


Consumer behaviour is in a constant flux, technology is blazing a trail, and marketing is phasing out old-school thinking. If you want to continue to reach new prospective customers, you need to embrace fluidity and keep apprised of the trends to stay ahead of the game.

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Pippa Nutt

Pippa Nutt is the Senior Vice President, Digital and Canadian Media at Northern Lights Direct Response.

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