2018 to 2019 Annual report on Government of Canada Advertising Activities

The 17th edition of the Annual report on Government of Canada advertising activities consists of information on Government of Canada advertising expenditures, new processes in place for the management of advertising activities, major campaigns and advertising supplier.

In accordance with the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity, Public Services and Procurement Canada produces the annual report on Government of Canada advertising activities. All figures are exclusive of tax and apply to government institutions included in Schedule I, Schedule I.1 and Schedule II of the Financial Administration Act.

View and download previous annual reports on advertising activities on the Government of Canada publications website.

Published by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) 2020

The publication may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes only. Prior written permission must be obtained from PSPC for all other use.

The Annual Report on Government of Canada advertising activities is available online.

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On this page

A look back

Government of Canada advertising in 2018 to 2019

Since 2016, digital media has become the most used means to provide Canadians with information on products and services, and not just in government. This year, 53% of the total media expenditures of $43.04 million was spent on digital media (total advertising expenditure were $58.60 million). Of that 33% was spent on social media, with the biggest investment being in Facebook Inc. But unlike the trend of previous years, where the largest investment in digital media was in social, this year the Government of Canada invested more in other forms of media in an attempt to offset this trend. In 2018 to 2019, $2.5 million more was invested in Internet display advertising than on social media. Along with this, the Government of Canada also increased spending in other domestic media including, $2.4 million on print and a further $9.1 million on television, reversing the trend of previous years.

The Government of Canada also developed a new purchasing model to support our domestic media, particularly those that Canadians relied on to provide factual information and that employed traditional journalistic values. We worked with the Agency of Record (AOR) to establish the Canadian Private Programmatic Marketplace. The Marketplace is a grouping of high quality, major Canadian digital platforms that can be used to help the Government of Canada achieve awareness objectives in its advertising campaigns. In 2019, campaigns piloted the Marketplace and the results were promising. The cost for the premium inventory for these campaigns was significantly less than the norm, and because they were positioned on sites that many Canadians know and trust, the viewability of the campaigns was very high.

With the Marketplace the Government of Canada is able to purchase premium digital inventory at a relatively low cost, in a brand safe environment with a heavy news skew. Further, it provides the opportunity to deploy banner ads with a language toggle on more advertisements to ensure Canadians can access Government of Canada information in the official language of their choice. The Government of Canada will continue to work with the AOR as it develops the Marketplace by negotiating with more English and French Canadian publishers.

Advertising expenditures

Figure 1: Advertising expenditures—A 10 year perspective Footnote 1

Figure 1: Line graph describing advertising expenditures—A 10 year perspective. See image description below.

Image description

This line graph presents total Government of Canada advertising expenditures in millions of dollars over ten years.

Table 1: Advertising expenditures with and without the Agency of Record Footnote 1

Table 1: Advertising expenditures
Types of advertising Amount spent Percent
Media purchased through the Agency of Record $55,228,547.61 94%
Media purchased directly by institutions $3,372,357.49 6%
Total $58,600,905.10 100%

Media expenditures with the Agency of Record Footnote 2

Figure 2: Media expenditures by type—A 5 year perspective

Figure 2: Bar graph displaying media expenditures by type—A 5 year perspective. See image description below.

Image description

This line graph presents percentages of media expenditures by the Government of Canada over five years from fiscal year 2014 to 2015 to fiscal year 2018 to 2019. The graph presents five types of media: out of home, print, radio, digital and television.

The table presents expenditures by media type for five years.

Table for figure 2: Advertising expenditures
Media type 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019
Digital $13,895,287.72 $10,324,095.32 $16,769,518.99 $18,153,526.27 $22,927,080.87
Out of Home $2,037,746.15 $886,686.97 $1,928,330.35 $4,177,134.48 $2,818,896.12
Print $4,253,851.31 $2,131,466.43 $2,938,610.49 $570,196.21 $2,921,078.09
Radio $2,663,807.10 $1,636,430.16 $2,618,111.43 $391,915.90 $799,671.39
Television $27,118,066.17 $15,290,362.59 $6,377,971.77 $4,470,941.73 $13,575,701.30

Figure 3: Government of Canada 2018 to 2019 media expenditures by type

Figure 3: Pie chart describing Government of Canada 2018 to 2019 media expenditures by type. See image description below.

Image description

In the centre of a wheel graph is the total amount spent ($43.04 million) on media in 2018 to 2019.

The wheel graph is segmented by percentages based on the amounts spent for each media type in 2018 to 2019:

Of the total amount spent on government media placements:

Note about Figure: These numbers do not include the production expenditures or media buying fees.

Figure 4: Digital media expenditures—A 5 year perspective

Figure 4: Bar graph displaying digital media expenditures—A 5 year perspective. See image description below.

Image description

A column graph divided by fiscal years 2014 to 2015, 2015 to 2016, 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, 2018 to 2019. Each year represents digital media expenditures segmented by individual bars for social media; search engine marketing; display; and, internet real time bidding. The percentages for each year are provided below.

Table for figure 4: Digital media expenditures—A 5 year perspective
Fiscal year Social media Search engine marketing Display Internet real time bidding
2014 to 2015 26% 11% 62% n/a
2015 to 2016 20% 14% 66% n/a
2016 to 2017 42% 13% 45% n/a
2017 to 2018 43% 12% 39% 6%
2018 to 2019 33% 21% 44% 2%

Figure 5: Social media expenditures—A 5 year perspective

Figure 5: Bar graph displaying social media expenditures—A 5 year perspective. See image description below.

Image description

This column chart represents social media expenditures over a period of five years from fiscal year 2014 to 2015 to fiscal year 2018 to 2019. The social media expenditures are segmented by individual bars for LinkedIn; Twitter; Facebook; and, Snapchat. The percentages for each year are provided below.

Table for figure 5: Social media expenditures—A 5 year perspective
Fiscal year LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Snapchat
2014 to 2015 12% 32% 56% n/a
2015 to 2016 5% 29% 66% n/a
2016 to 2017 8% 27% 65% n/a
2017 to 2018 9% 12% 73% 5%
2018 to 2019 11% 11% 71% 7%

Advertising to Canadians in both official languages

Reaching Canadians in both official languages is a requirement for Government of Canada advertising. The Government plans advertising campaigns to align with the most recent Canadian Census data from 2016 which is approximately 75% English and 25% French.

Table 2: English and French spending by media type Table 2 note 1
English French Total
$ % $ %
Cinema $790,583 85% $141,315 15% $931,898
Internet Display $7,266,516 75% $2,415,113 25% $9,681,628
Internet Real Time Bidding $305,423 73% $115,501 27% $420,924
Internet Search Engine Marketing $3,004,284 80% $764,816 20% $3,769,100
Internet Social Media $4,901,343 76% $1,581,682 24% $6,483,025
Out of Home $1,246,787 67% $626,066 33% $1,872,854
Print Dailies $1,637,673 87% $243,830 13% $1,881,502
Print Magazine $274,782 67% $135,305 33% $410,087
Print Weeklies $148,197 41% $210,779 59% $358,976
Radio $435,915 94% $29,073 6% $464,988
Television $11,261,247 84% $2,108,293 16% $13,369,540
Total $31,272,749 79% $8,371,772 21% $39,644,522

Table 2 note

Table 2 note 1

Excludes campaigns targeting international, ethnic and Indigenous audiences.

Spending attribution by language is based on:

  • print (dailies, weeklies, magazines): the publication title
  • television and radio: the station broadcast language
  • out of home: provinces indicated in the contracts and the predominant language of each province, except for cinema (proportion of screens by province)
  • internet: since 2017 to 2018, investments are allocated to the actual amounts spent by language and by platform

Return to table 2 note 1 referrer

Advertising to ethnic, Indigenous and international audiences

Throughout the year the Government of Canada undertakes advertising to reach ethnic, Indigenous audiences within Canada, as well as international audiences including potential newcomers to Canada.

Table 3: Media expenditures targeting ethnic and Indigenous audiences Table 3 note 1
Media Ethnic Table 3 note 1 Indigenous Table 3 note 1
Internet display $248,426 $204,035
Internet real time bidding $14,506 n/a
Internet search engine marketing n/a $20,000
Internet social media $295,317 $475,080
Out of home n/a $14,145
Print $225,585 $44,928
Radio $8,794 $325,889
Television $113,341 $92,820
Total $905,969 $1,176,897

Table 3 note

Table 3 note 1

We are reaching the target via multiple languages that can include English and French.

Return to table 3 note 1 referrer

Table 4: Media expenditures targeting international audiences Table 4 note 1
Institution Search engine marketing Social media Total
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada $915,536 $236,184 $1,151,720
Global Affairs Canada $35,000 $128,320 $163,320
Total $950,536 $364,504 $1,315,040

Table 4 note

Table 4 note 1

We are reaching the target via multiple languages that can include English and French.

Return to table 4 note 1 referrer

Government of Canada media expenditures

Figure 6: Top 12 Government of Canada advertisers Footnote 1

Figure 6: Bar graph displaying top 12 Government of Canada advertisers. See image description below.

Image description

This bar graph represents the advertising expenditures, from the highest to the lowest of the 12 key advertisers by the Government of Canada during the fiscal year 2018 to 2019.

Table 5: Advertising expenditures by institution Footnote 1
Institution Advertising purchased through the AOR Advertising purchased direct by institution Digital advertising purchased through the Online Advertising Unit (OAU) Total
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada $115,145.09 $9,978.22 n/a $125,123.31
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency n/a n/a $214,119.72 $214,119.72
Canada Border Services Agency n/a $4,866.73 n/a $4,866.73
Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions n/a $20,740.90 n/a $20,740.90
Canada Revenue Agency $7,813,118.44 $30,833.09 n/a $7,843,951.53
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety n/a $22,112.59 $43,836.02 $65,948.61
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency n/a $232,962.45 n/a $232,962.45
Canadian Food Inspection Agency $98,384.88 $52,995.91 $28,662.25 $180,043.04
Canadian Grain Commission n/a $47,826.62 n/a $47,826.62
Canadian Heritage $44,863.22 $49,550.42 $24,517.35 $118,930.99
Canadian Institutes of Health Research n/a $7,550.13 n/a $7,550.13
Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency n/a $45,848.85 n/a $45,848.85
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission n/a $104,796.80 n/a $104,796.80
Canadian Security Intelligence Service Has not been reported Has not been reported Has not been reported Has not been reported
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission $15,199.86 $5,291.01 n/a $20,490.87
Canadian Transportation Agency $177,361.30 n/a n/a $177,361.30
Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) n/a $1,392.30 n/a $1,392.30
Communications Security Establishment Canada $192,113.91 $13,614.61 n/a $205,728.52
Correctional Service Canada n/a $21,024.37 n/a $21,024.37
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada n/a $26,040.45 n/a $26,040.45
Department of Finance Canada n/a n/a $24,166.25 $24,166.25
Department of Justice Canada n/a $1,836.00 n/a $1,836.00
Employment and Social Development Canada $6,524,236.85 $17,036.20 n/a $6,541,273.05
Environment and Climate Change Canada $1,141,907.91 $112,786.16 $399,417.85 $1,654,111.92
Farm Products Council of Canada n/a $34,814.89 n/a $34,814.89
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada $491,672.65 $5,000.29 n/a $496,672.94
Fisheries and Oceans Canada $105,458.99 $85,637.70 n/a $191,096.69
Global Affairs Canada $370,412.97 $349,149.10 $230,306.07 $949,868.14
Health Canada $12,151,483.75 $11,054.33 n/a $12,162,538.08
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada n/a $5,521.89 n/a $5,521.89
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada $2,448,397.99 $2,500.00 n/a $2,450,897.99
Indigenous Services Canada $411,021.24 $30,094.77 n/a $441,116.01
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada $3,517,488.30 $2,738.65 $29,205.28 $3,549,432.23
Library and Archives Canada n/a $15,113.57 n/a $15,113.57
National Defence $5,767,982.74 $67,136.17 n/a $5,835,118.91
National Energy Board n/a $10,702.56 n/a $10,702.56
National Film Board n/a $446,811.46 n/a $446,811.46
National Research Council Canada n/a $100,140.79 n/a $100,140.79
Natural Resources Canada $171,512.31 n/a n/a $171,512.31
Office of the Secretary to the Governor General n/a $215,995.63 n/a $215,995.63
Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada n/a $6,099.43 n/a $6,099.43
Parks Canada $2,918,463.49 $649,967.17 n/a $3,568,430.66
Polar Knowledge Canada n/a $29,214.68 n/a $29,214.68
Public Health Agency of Canada $2,146,384.67 $15,000.00 n/a $2,161,384.67
Public Safety Canada $2,939,769.91 n/a $71,273.78 $3,011,043.69
Public Service Commission n/a n/a $94,198.44 $94,198.44
Public Services and Procurement Canada $203,458.91 $234,493.07 n/a $437,951.98
Royal Canadian Mounted Police n/a $11,270.67 n/a $11,270.67
Shared Services Canada $43,280.29 n/a n/a $43,280.29
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada n/a $1,399.93 n/a $1,399.93
Statistics Canada $3,631.54 $20,154.22 n/a $23,785.76
The National Battlefields Commission n/a $114,479.19 n/a $114,479.19
Transport Canada $267,665.27 $22,138.05 $179,067.24 $468,870.56
Transportation Safety Board of Canada n/a $22,286.72 n/a $22,286.72
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat n/a n/a $32,033.55 $32,033.55
Veterans Affairs Canada $3,777,327.33 $34,358.75 n/a $3,811,686.08
Total $53,857,743.81 $3,372,357.49 $1,370,803.80 $58,600,905.10
Table 6: Campaigns exceeding $500,000 by institution
Institution Production Media Total
Canada Revenue Agency
Benefits and credits campaign $825,185.93 $4,904,184.53 $5,729,370.46
Climate action incentive $295,633.55 $957,377.19 $1,253,010.74
Offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance $60,403.67 $765,596.67 $826,000.34
Employment and Social Development Canada
Education and skills—adult $364,983.83 $877,608.28 $1,242,592.11
Education and skills—youth $340,278.19 $743,197.56 $1,083,475.75
Services for seniors $784,735.39 $3,368,033.97 $4,152,769.36
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Nature legacy $212,653.93 $870,645.74 $1,083,299.67
Health Canada
Cannabis public education campaign $791,568.16 $5,552,659.28 $6,344,227.44
Opioid stigma and harm reduction $556,428.32 $3,566,475.63 $4,122,903.95
Youth vaping prevention $168,407.74 $979,088.50 $1,147,496.24
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Biometrics expansion $28,102.75 $777,853.95 $805,956.70
Newcomer services $102,857.75 $802,413.68 $905,271.43
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Innovation for success $675,263.36 $2,814,706.23 $3,489,969.59
National Defence
Awareness campaigns (100+ careers, attention) $1,676,853.71 $2,180,026.89 $3,856,880.60
Women recruitment 2018-2019 $74,661.02 $500,407.43 $575,068.45
Parks Canada
National office--national advertising campaign $435,298.76 $2,425,320.35 $2,860,619.11
Public Health Agency of Canada
Childhood vaccination $181,163.11 $1,736,323.88 $1,917,486.99
Public Safety Canada
Don't drive high/drug impaired driving $519,132.08 $2,314,705.08 $2,833,837.16
Veterans Affairs Canada
Services for veterans and their families $31,569.76 $897,311.14 $928,880.90
2018 Remembrance campaign $524,889.67 $1,446,949.05 $1,971,838.72
Table 7: Government of Canada advertising suppliers
Contract type Supplier Received a contract in 2018 to 2019
Standing offers up to $850,000 (Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) not included) or $960,500 (HST included) Agency 59 Ltd. Yes
Target Marketing and Communications Yes
Compass Communications Yes
Rain 43 Yes
McCann Canada Yes
Ogilvy Montréal Yes
Acart Communications Yes
Quiller and Blake Yes
Cheil Canada in JV with l'Atelier Français Inc. Yes
M5 Marketing Communications Yes
Entreprise de communications Tank Inc. Yes
Feast Interactive Yes


Appendix I: Government of Canada advertising process—Who does what

The Government of Canada has an obligation to inform Canadians about its policies, programs and services, about their legal rights, and to alert them to environmental, public health and safety issues. Advertising is one way the government does this. A rigorous process, involving many organizations, is in place to ensure that advertising activities align to government priorities, themes and objectives, comply with policies, procedures and legislation, and meet the information needs of Canadians. Government of Canada (GC) advertising is conducted according to the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity. The roles of the organizations involved in the process is described below.


Departments and other portions of the federal public administration operating under Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act develop their advertising plans based on the organizations and Government of Canada’s priorities, and work with the Privy Council Office to obtain Cabinet approval. They work with PSPC to contract an advertising agency to provide a creative strategy and materials, and the Agency of Record to provide a media strategy and plans. Institutions are responsible for managing all aspects of their advertising activities, ensuring that their campaigns reach their target audiences with the appropriate message at the correct time, using media appropriate to reach their audiences. Along with this, they are responsible to ensure that all communications adheres to the Official Languages Act. And they are responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of their advertising efforts. At the end of the fiscal year they report their yearly spending to PSPC.

Privy Council Office

Privy Council Office (PCO) sets broad government communications themes that reflect government priorities, as determined by the Prime Minister, Cabinet, Cabinet committees and the Clerk of the Privy Council. Institutions submit their advertising plans to PCO which works with the Prime Minister’s Office to develop the Government of Canada’s annual advertising plan. Once approved by the Prime Minister, PCO prepares relevant documentation so that institutions receive funding from the central advertising fund (departments can also fund their advertising using their own funds). PCO provides oversight of advertising government-wide, coordinates advertising activities to ensure that the overall budget levels are respected, and ensures that results collected help inform future campaign development.

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) issues administrative policies including the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity which governs communications activities, including advertising. It manages the Treasury Board submission process to secure advertising funding for departments. The policy aligns Government of Canada communications practices with today’s digital environment, and includes a requirement that all communications products and activities, including advertising, be non-partisan. All advertising campaigns with budgets over $500,000 must undergo a mandatory independent external review to ensure that they are non-partisan. Review results are posted on Canada.ca.

Public Services and Procurement Canada

Three PSPC Directorates are involved in GC advertising.

Advertising Services Directorate
Communications Procurement Directorate
Public Opinion Research Directorate

Appendix II: Government of Canada advertising glossary


Any message conveyed in Canada or abroad and paid for by the government for placement in media, including but not limited to newspapers, television, radio, cinema, billboards and other out-of-home media, mobile devices, the internet, and any other digital medium.

Advertising activities

Activities relating to the production and placement of advertising. These activities include campaign planning, creative development, pre-testing, production, media planning, placement of advertising and evaluation.

Advertising services supplier

A private sector supplier selected through a competitive process to provide a government institutions with advertising services, such as strategic planning, creative and production services in support of an advertising initiative.

Advertising Technology Provider

A private sector supplier, selected through a competitive process, which maintains various platforms to serve, track and report on federal digital advertisements, including an ad server to host and serve display advertising, a demand-side platform for programmatic advertising buys, and a data management platform with standardized information on campaign performance and results.

Agency of Record

A private sector supplier, selected through a competitive process, which plans, negotiates, consolidates, purchases and verifies advertising media space and time for government advertising.

Buy and Sell

The electronic-tendering system used by the Government of Canada to post searchable procurement notices and bid-solicitation documents for access by suppliers and contracting officers. For more information, please see buyandsell.gc.ca.

Digital display advertising

Advertising in different text, image and audio formats, such as banner or big box ads published on a website for viewing by site visitors.

Media buy or placement

The purchase of advertising space and time from a media outlet, such as a television station, radio station, newspaper, magazine, website, cinema, out of home, etc.

Non-partisan communications

In the context of all Government of Canada communications products and activities, non-partisan means:

  • objective, factual and explanatory
  • free from political party slogans, images, in all three cases
  • the primary colour associated with the governing party is not used in a dominant way, unless an item is commonly depicted in that colour
  • advertising is devoid of any name, voice or image of a minister, member of Parliament or senator
Out of home

Advertising media to which audiences are exposed outside the home such as mall posters, billboards, bus and transit-shelter advertisements, digital screens and kiosks, etc.

Programmatic (Real time bidding)

A data driven programmatic buying model allowing advertisers or their agencies to bid on digital media space (display, video, mobile, social, etc.) in real-time, at the impression level (source: Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada).

Promoted posts

Paid advertising option on social media platforms to increase the likelihood of an institution’s post being seen by a key audience.

Request for proposal

A formal government document, posted on buyandsell.gc.ca, through which advertising services suppliers are invited to submit proposals for creative advertising work on complex thematic and multi-component projects usually spanning more than one year. Proposals are evaluated according to criteria detailed in each Request for proposal (RFP). Contracts are awarded through a competitive process in which selection is based on a combination of technical score and price offering best value.

Search engine marketing

A form of advertising used to promote websites and attract visitors by increasing their visibility in search engine results, on search engine platforms.

Social media

Interactive web-based tools that encourage users to collaborate, create, generate and distribute content and to customize applications.

Standing offer

An arrangement in which advertising services suppliers qualify from a pool of pre-screened advertising services suppliers to provide the government with goods and services at pre-arranged prices, under set terms and conditions, and for specific periods of time on an “as requested” basis. A standing offer is not a contract.

Appendix III: Key advertising related laws, regulations and policies

Laws and regulations


Directive and mandatory procedures

Appendix IV: Government of Canada advertising resources

Laws and regulations

An invitation to readers

This report has been compiled to inform Canadians about the advertising activities undertaken by the Government of Canada in fiscal year 2018 to 2019.

The government welcomes your feedback.

To submit comments or questions, please contact:
Advertising Services Directorate
Receiver General and Pensions Branch
Public Services and Procurement Canada
Ottawa ON K1A 0S5
Email: tpsgc.dgsidcpprapportpub-isbacpdadvreport.pwgsc@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca

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