LEARN: What Bill C-18 Means for Digital Marketing

Between AI, GA4, and infamous X, 2023 was a big year for the alphabet soup that is the digital world. But some of the most disruptive characters in our world were C-18.

This past summer, Canadians attempting to share stories from The Globe and MailToronto Star, or other outlets on Facebook were greeted with an unfamiliar message: ‘People in Canada can’t see your content.’

Meta made this move following the Government of Canada’s passing of the Online News Act (or Bill C-18), which would require large search engines and social media services, namely Meta and Google, to negotiate payments with news businesses or groups of news businesses (the ones whose content has been so essential in the building and growth of these platforms).

While Google reached a deal with the Canadian Government, it does not seem as though news will come back to Meta anytime soon. Their decision to block content creates a challenge for arts organizations who have relied upon these stories to inform and educate their audiences about upcoming work.

How is this impacting the digital marketing field? What implications does this have for our clients?

Know your outlets. It can be surprising to see the sites that circumvent the Meta block. On the west coast, for example, Vancouver Sun and Daily Hive coverage cannot be shared on newsfeeds – but The Georgia Straight articles can. Rather than assume all sites are blocked, always test and see if your coverage is running on an outlet that is exempt from the ban.

Pay to play. While organic posting from news sites remains unavailable, coverage can still be published when run as advertisements. It highlights the importance of an integrated digital marketing and media relations plan, where coverage can be strategically delivered into the news feeds of your targeted audiences.

Own your audience. These developments once again highlight the importance of first-party data in the form of a robust, segmented email database – as organizations cannot necessarily rely on outside parties to inform audiences about upcoming works. A constantly growing privacy compliant list is, and always has been, an arts organization’s most powerful tool in educating audiences, generating awareness, telling stories, and ultimately selling tickets.

Categories: MPMG