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H1 2023 recap & what lies ahead for programmatic DOOH in Canada



Scott Mitchell

As the cost of living continues to rise, naturally, it has impacted the way in which Canadians are spending money. From a renewed preference for deals and discounts, to comparing and contrasting different brands to find the best ROI, Canadian shoppers’ habits have shifted in a big way. 

For marketers, this leaves open a huge opportunity to get more creative and leverage the flexible and dynamic capabilities of digital out-of-home (DOOH). As we continue to work collaboratively with brands to help them navigate these shifts, and reach audiences at the right places and times, we are using this mid-year point to reflect on the successes and challenges of the first half of the year (H1) to inform sustained successes in the back half (H2), and beyond. 


Canadian Advertisers Invest More in DOOH

Vistar Media Canada kicked off the year by expanding its national operations even further with new hires bringing extensive and highly in-demand programmatic experience to the team. The Canadian team now spans from British Columbia to Quebec and is continuing to provide full-market service to partners and clients across the country. While the team grows in both size (nearly doubling in size in 2023) and expertise, it is also strategically expanding its business operations to offer specialized support to its clients. Across the board, we’re celebrating strong adoption of Vistar’s programmatic DOOH solutions in Canada. Here are some of our top highlights:

  • Vistar saw a 15% increase in media spend YOY, compared to H1 2022

  • Vistar partnered with 122 total brands in H1 2023 (63% YOY growth)
    • This included 75 new advertisers (74% YOY growth)
  • Vistar worked with 50 different agency partners in H1 2023 (108% YOY growth)
  • Overall, this led to Vistar executing 370 total campaigns in H1 2023 (48% YOY growth)

Data Reaffirms DOOH as An Attractive Channel for Canadian Advertisers

Given the current macroeconomic climate, many brands have looked for ways to streamline business, including reallocating media budgets and finding efficiencies where possible. Yet, savvy brand marketers recognize that maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during weaker economic times can often result in increased sales and market share during or after a recession.

In looking at our own Canadian client mix, two trends emerged among the verticals making the largest and most rapid investments in programmatic DOOH, with entertainment appearing in both categories. 


Top spending verticals in H1 2023 (in order):

  1. Financial services
  2. Retail
  3. Entertainment 


Fastest growing verticals in H1 2023 (in order):

  1. Quick service restaurants (QSR)
  2. Entertainment
  3. Travel & government 

Further, we are seeing brands lean more heavily into audience data and measurement solutions, with overall data adoption rates up by 91% YOY and audience adoption rates up by 103% YOY since 2022. This attention to measurement and attribution is a consistent trend, and given the current macroeconomic uncertainty, ranks in the top three advertising capabilities and media investments that are most critical to marketers this year. 


Vistar Enhanced Its Creative Offerings for Advertisers

Strong creative is critical to connecting with consumers and driving a successful campaign. In fact, 75% of an ad’s effectiveness is determined by its creative, making it one of the most important components of any campaign.

Recognizing there is a gap in OOH-optimized creative, we launched Vistar Studio in H1, a new offering that provides advertising design services to help marketers take full advantage of DOOH and its dynamic creative solutions such as weather, countdowns (or count-ups), live scoring and more. We also introduced a new creative white paper including strategies for creative teams and media buyers to better align and build more effective DOOH campaigns.

As brands work to differentiate from competitors and drive engagement, dynamic capabilities have continued to remain critical. To the benefit of these brand marketers, our national reach has made great strides in Canada with the opportunity to work with 34 different media owners and activate on 20,000 digital screens

Rain-X x Pattison

Looking at H2 2023 and Beyond 

As we continue to invest in our team across Canada, our targeting, measurement and creative offerings will only continue to grow. For instance, to kick off H2, we announced our ‘nearest location’ dynamic creative use case in programmatic DOOH for brick-and-mortar establishments such as entertainment, retail, grocery, telecom providers, financial services, automotive and restaurants. This capability now allows brands to take their retail, shopper marketing and visitation efforts to the next level by automatically integrating details on the closest physical location into their out-of-home creatives – with zero manual work required. 

Our team remains laser focused on enhancing the Canadian DOOH ecosystem and is already working closely with partners to activate impactful and efficient holiday campaigns that accommodate the ongoing challenges facing brand marketers today. Vistar’s H1 2023 growth demonstrated across the Canadian team, expanded digital signage inventory and innovative, data-driven capabilities will continue to advance in the months to come as we look to the back half of the year. 

Want to learn more about the future of DOOH and our range of programmatic capabilities in Canada? Reach out to our team! 

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