All PostsDigital Marketing

Surprising digital trends that marketers could factor into their planning

The annual CMA survey revealed insightful info about tech in marketing.

When the Canadian Marketing Association launched its sweeping industry survey back in 2006, it had no idea that one new piece of technology would rock the world just one year later. That surprise was the 2007 debut of the iPhone. Today, more than 1.2 billion of these devices have been sold, and since then the smartphone has changed almost every aspect of life — including marketing.

For the twelfth edition of the CMA’s Digital Marketing Pulse survey, Ipsos Canada polled more than 4,000 marketers across the country. The findings shed fascinating light on the hottest digital technologies for marketing businesses and products, some surprising comeback kids, a few disappointing duds and the next big things coming down the line.


The iPhone ushered in the era of mobile marketing. Today, 50 per cent of surveyed marketers say they “often or always” use mobile tech in their campaigns. That’s a big jump from 40 per cent the year before and also the highest percentage in that category during the survey’s 12-year history.

Ipsos Canada COO Steve Levy says marketers’ mobile mindset is not surprising, since “the public is consuming more content on [mobile] devices than anywhere else.”

Social and video

What is surprising? While 80 per cent of consumers say they’re “very worried” about the privacy and security of their personal information on social media, only nine per cent of marketers have reacted to those fears by reducing their spending on social marketing campaigns.

“[Marketers] are treading cautiously — but is it changing their behaviour? I don’t think so,” says Levy. “Privacy issues are a concern but they’re not a derailer.” Consumers aren’t changing their behaviour either. Despite their concerns about privacy and security, 64 per cent of consumers told the CMA they haven’t changed their social media habits as a result.  

Marketers see online video as a crucial part of their toolkit, with 47 per cent already employing it in campaigns and 65 per cent looking to use more of it in the future.

The comeback kids

Some technologies are enjoying a renaissance of renewed interest in marketing circles. In the words of one survey participant, “what was once stodgy is now new.” Those technology tools include:

Blogs/vlogs: These are now utilized regularly by 35 per cent of marketers, a sharp 10 per cent uptick from 2015.

Digital signage: Marketers are rediscovering digital signage thanks to mobile sensors, geo-targeting and augmented reality (AR). All three helped win Clio and Gold Lion awards for this ingenious Parisian road safety billboard campaign (albeit a little shocking) that was designed to boost pedestrian safety in France last year.

Websites: Yes, good ol’ websites. Levy says the continued growth of ecommerce has sparked “a rejuvenation” in marketing via traditional websites. Although 30 per cent of marketers agree websites are becoming less important in marketing due to social media, that’s actually a steep decline from 2017, when 42 per cent of marketing pros felt websites were packing less marketing punch.

Still unproven

While Levy says wearable tech has generated “lots of hype,” only eight per cent of Canadian marketers believe it’s the next frontier in digital marketing, a big downward tumble from 16 per cent last year. A scant three per cent of marketers “often or always” use wearable tech in their projects.

“Usage is clearly not there,” says Levy. “Is [wearable tech] delivering as an advertising platform? I think not. Not now. Maybe in the future, but not now.” Marketers still aren’t sold on the merits of augmented reality either, with just four per cent of them tapping into AR “often or always” for marketing initiatives.

Up and comers

Voice-activated technology is poised to make a lot of noise in the marketing space. IDC predicts one million Canadian households will have intelligent voice assistant devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo by the end of this year. Marketing pros are eyeing that growth in consumer adoption.

Although just four per cent of marketers use voice-activated search right now, 53 per cent say they either have a plan in place for it today or will develop one next year. Based on this national poll, Canadian marketers are betting on voice search and video, while rediscovering blogs and websites as promotional tools. Will you follow suit in marketing your business?


Up Next: Have you tried paid social in your digital marketing campaign?

Christine Wong

Christine Wong is a journalist based in Toronto who has covered a wide range of startups and technology issues. A former staff writer with, she has also worked as a reporter for the Canadian Economic Press and in broadcast roles at SliceTV and the CBC.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *