AdCanada Media Blog
How will your sparking new digital media campaign play in rural Canada?
Ad campaigns aimed at farmers or residents of communities of less than 50,000 – and that includes significant tracts of buying power in rural Canada - could well contain a fatal flaw. Over enthusiasm for digital media could be putting you under a cloaking device without you even realizing it.
Digital media makes a lot of really amazing marketing possible. Digital marketing relationships are worth a lot. However digital life in rural Canada IS NOT the same as it is in the media-saturated metropolises that ad planners and their corporate clients typically work and live in. And this creates the conditions for an optical illusion, which can cause you to go invisible (or at best, a light grey) in parts of the country that can often be the key to a campaign’s success. Attempting to extrapolate internet accessibility and usage across all community types based on one’s own experience can be and often is, a fools errand.
How can you know you are at risk? The answer can be found by reviewing your media plan and asking to what extent you are depending on digital media for access to communities with under 50,000 population or any farming or rural areas. If by your honest assessment you are depending largely on digital media to access to these audiences, it may be time to think again.
According to CRTC, significant swaths of rural Canada ARE STILL either unserved or underserved.
This government site allows you to view which areas of Canada are served by various types of high speed internet service and by the inverse also see where underserved parts of Canada are. Zoom in to get a good look at the areas that are key to your campaign’s success. Consider that CRTC considers the area covered if just one household in the sample size is able to receive high-speed at an “adequate” speed. Not that they do currently receive high speed, but that they can if they chose to invest in it. Expensive alternate plans are not used with the unabashed mirth that we use our cheap unlimited plans. Marketers beware.
Then consider this. The bar CRTC sets to define ‘adequate’ service was clearly not set with marketing in mind. By ’adequate’ CRTC means speeds of 5mbps download and 1mbps upload. These are not speeds at which any audience will be consuming digital media the way urban dwellers like you and I do. At these speeds your carefully crafted video roll is more likely to generate frustration not fascination.
The struggle, we as responsible media sellers have, is in trying to contextualize for a media planner on Bloor or St. Laurent Street what it means to live with a sub-standard internet connection and how this rural reality defines what a person can and can’t do online – or equally important what they will and won’t do. Anecdotally we can attempt to use the proliferation of video rental stores still dotting rural landscapes to help make the case for how video streaming is not really a ‘thing’ in a rural area. We can share our own experiences of hour-long dead spots as we drive our territories in between client meetings. We can talk about capped data usage from mobile and satellite service providers. But it would appear as though the blind quest for ‘trackability’ supersedes reality when it comes to how to effectively communicate with customers in rural areas.
This editorial appearing in the agricultural publication, Grainews, crystallizes the first hand experiences of the challenge in trying to operate a farm in the ‘internet of everything era’ in a place where the internet isn’t everything. Or everywhere.
How can it be that a rep for a chemical company can claim disbelief about the number of farmers who can’t watch his company’s 20-minute online video because of a ‘slow internet day’ yet he can sit back and watch as his company invests millions of dollars into marketing efforts that endure the same challenges? And expecting a customer to drive an hour to view a video or download a file doesn’t feel like good marketing to me.
Community newspapers on the other hand have realized steady circulation in the face of reduced revenues thanks to national ad budgets being misdirected toward more fashionable yet less capable media, and continue to deliver access to rural audiences with near exclusivity.
So while it might not seem like sexy media, and it might not have been specified in your concrete-jungle-bound clients brief looking for “cutting edge media”, working out how to mesh the wise use of community press along with your digital plans may be the step that saves your campaign. If your media plan has failed to incorporate traditional media options (and their higher than digital CPM’s) in markets where a 1.5mbs download speed is the norm, then fail it will.