Why Canada Is Rocking Marketing Tech

Hootsuite, Radian6, Sysomos, and so many other marketing tech innovations come from Canada. Why is Canada ahead of the pack when it comes to marketing innovation?

For years, our cousins from the North have intrigued me by their success in marketing and tech, disproportionate to the size of their population or their economy. Is it something in the water? Cold winters teaching resilience? The availability of public funds for education and innovation? Or a way for the universe to show the rest of us that the nice guys can win?

As I’m running a couple of workshops in Toronto next week, I decided to go ask the experts about (read aboot) it ahead of my trip to better understand the community I’ll be meeting. Here is what they had to say…


Tara Hunt

Social Digital Leader, MSL Canada


Canadians aren’t big risk takers by nature. Historically, taking risks led to death by freezing and being eaten by bears! In order to fully maximize our energy, we look to metrics to make certain what we are doing is effective, thus mitigating risk as much as possible. We are somewhat less “cowboy” than our cousins to the South. We have a smaller population that is more spread out, so we need to make every dollar count. Metrics and other tech innovations in marketing are incredibly useful for us. Turns out that they are useful for the rest of the world, too!

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Hana Abaza

Director of Marketing, Uberflip


Canada has a long history of technology innovation. As the digital landscape shifts and the marketing technology space grows, we have a long list of talented entrepreneurs with both the background and the foresight to spot the gaps in the industry. When you combine this with a wealth of homegrown technical talent, the result is often companies that produce well-built products with a superior user experience.

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Robert Clarke

Partner, OP ED Marketing


Canadians spend over 45 hours a month online: more time than anyone else in the world (Comscore). The majority of that time is spent on social media sites, where Canadians are inherently learning the dynamics and nuances of online interaction and social relationship building. This bodes well when it comes to creating marketing tools that are designed to be social-centric and customer-focused. But it is also about a cultural and economic shift taking place. Canada has historically been a country heavily dependent on its manufacturing and natural resource industries. But with a changing global economy, and closer ties to the US (and its cultural paradigm of innovation and silicon valley entrepreneurialism), Canada is moving to a place where technology is the new manufacturing and skilled, tech-savvy entrepreneurs are the new natural resources.

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Rachel Foster

CEO, Fresh Perspective Copywriting


Canada is fortunate to have many organizations that support innovation. Government agencies created programs to drive Canadian innovation and boost the economy. This has helped make Canada a very friendly place for entrepreneurs. I think many Canadian entrepreneurs are drawn to marketing innovation because they see the need for it. All businesses need to engage customers and drive sales – but they don’t want to deal with complicated technology. New Canadian technologies are making it easier for businesses to reach their goals. This is why entrepreneurs are receiving funding for innovative marketing technologies and succeeding. Another key factor is that Canadians like to give back and support one another. Volunteerism is a huge part of Canadian culture. New business owners can reach out to established business owners for advice and mentorship. This willingness to share ideas helps Canadian entrepreneurs succeed.

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Judy Gombita

Public Relations & Communication Management Strategist


Thanks to a large land mass and small population, Canada has always been good at two things: communication and transportation. Add in a Two (Nations) Solitude right from the birth of the nation, mixed in with increasing diversity in immigration patterns, and you have the perfect mix for technology platforms that focus on accommodation in addition to information and sharing.
Some of the most innovative social technology has come from the university environment: Citizen Lab is a perfect example – “an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs focusing on advanced research and development at the intersection of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), human rights, and global security”. Likewise, Sysomos was founded in 2007 by two computer scientists at the University of Toronto. The back story on Radian6 is even more unusual, but also very “Canadian” particularly as it is set in one of Canada’s smaller Atlantic provinces. And Vancouver’s Hootsuite was a case of “we can’t find it, so let’s build our own.
From a marketing perspective, I wrote about the wonderfully Canadian-specificOur Food, Your Questions” platform that McDonald’s Canada initiated –I don’t think you can get more “information” and “engagement” and “accommodating” than answering every question (involving multiple departments and stakeholders) asked about a fast food chain’s product and services – and be celebrated for that fact! Of course I deem it more of a public relations initiative, related to “reputation, value and relationship building” but the awards the platform received were mainly for its marketing originality and prowess. I’m OK with that.

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Hessie Jones

CEO, ArCompany


Canada is ahead of the pack, and in particular, Vancouver and Toronto because the marketers that push the envelope when it comes to new media are here. There is also strong visibility and support in the tech start-up community from Start-up North, Mesh Toronto, Ohmers Ventures, PodCamp, Start-Up Weekend, MarsDD, and RIC Centre to name a few. Social Media in Toronto is bar-none when it comes to spreading the word: through politics, events, coupling it with traditional media and through constant barrage of meet-ups. Toronto is “the” hub for social. While it’s a small community, it’s also a vibrant and supportive mesh of companies [marketing, development community, PR, software companies, and investment] pushing the envelope, and fostering support through adoption, promotion and word of mouth.

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Raymond Morin

Consultant senior stratégies web / médias sociaux


The answer depends on several contextual factors. It depends first and foremost on talent that Canadian startups have been able to recruit. This human capital of excellence that Canadian startups regroup behind their corporate vision, despite the inertia of organizations and governments that are still slow to invest, is probably also the result of several factors. Canadian universities are renowned in the world to offer excellent programs, particularly in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. It’s these talented programmers and developers that companies like Ubisoft, Frank & Oak, Hootsuite and Shopify were able to recruit that allowed them to stand out. This innovation behavior is also reflected in other areas, such as the circus, movie and music industries, where several artists and producers are distinguished among the world leaders. This creativity that makes young Quebec and Canadian entrepreneurs push their limits, and innovate continuously, is perhaps the result of the cosmopolitan character of Canada. With Quebec, the country is at the crossroads of two cultures that feed continuously; francophone European culture and American culture. With the benefits brought by both.

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