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Revenue of advertising and related services up in 2019

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Released: 2020-12-21

Advertising and related services, operating revenue

$11.1 billion


3.1% increase

(annual change)

The advertising and related services industry generated $11.1 billion in operating revenue in 2019, up 3.1% from 2018. Operating expenses grew at a higher rate (+3.6%), leading to a decline in the industry's operating profit margin, to 14.2%.

Growth in operating expenses was driven by salaries, wages, commissions and benefits, which climbed 4.3%. This category continued to account for the largest share of industry expenditures (41.9%).

The industry is heavily concentrated in Ontario, which accounted for 60.4% of national revenue in 2019. Ontario had the largest operating revenue dollar gain, with an increase of $163.7 million (+2.5%) from 2018. Ontario was followed by Quebec, up $93.4 million (+4.2%), and British Columbia, with an increase of $33.7 million (+3.4%). Several smaller provinces posted significant growth, including Saskatchewan (+9.8%), New Brunswick (+7.5%), Manitoba (+4.8%) and Alberta (+4.5%).

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the industry in several ways in 2020. Early in the pandemic, many businesses cancelled or delayed campaigns, while others went ahead, but often with reduced budgets. The reopening of some businesses and the return of professional sports playoffs in the third quarter helped boost the advertising industry, although revenues did not return to pre-pandemic levels. By the fourth quarter, the closure of some businesses because of public health measures is expected to once again impact advertising budgets. As consumer habits shifted during the pandemic, the industry adapted, and the proportion of advertising spending dedicated to digital and streaming platforms increased according to the industry.

  Note to readers

Data for 2017 and 2018 have been revised.

The data for reference year 2019 were collected during spring and summer of 2020. This collection period includes the events and business disruptions around COVID-19 and, in general, response rates have been lower. As a result, there may be larger-than-normal revisions to the data in future releases. For more information on data quality and revisions please refer to 2437— Annual Survey of Service Industries: Advertising and Related Services.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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