Digital Ad Strategy Teardown: Real Canadian Superstore

Advertising
Facebook
YouTube
Display Ads
October 1, 2020
Grocery

Key Takeaways

Paid Channel Focus Allocation — YouTube & Facebook: The competitive set is focusing their efforts on two main platforms: Facebook and YouTube. However, with Superstore’s recent shift in focus from YouTube to Facebook, there is now less direct competition on the YouTube platform. Whole Foods is the only competitor focusing their efforts on display advertising, where the majority (82%) of their ads are published on amazon.ca.

Advertising Strategy — Heavy Focus on Conversion Ads: Superstore drastically reduced their budget for brand awareness ads and focused on Facebook conversion ads where the main goal is to drive sales and traffic to the site. Since 2018, Superstore has allocated around 62% of their yearly ad spend towards YouTube brand awareness campaigns during their last fiscal quarter (October - December), however this year YouTube spend is at an all-time low with an average monthly spend of $29K compared to $1M in previous years. 

Paid Social Tactic — Personalized Ad Creative: Tailor your ads to specific audiences - customize the text, image/video, and sound to create personalized messaging for different audience groups. Personalized ads are likely to have stronger ad recall compared to generic creatives with the same messaging for all consumers. Ad optimization tools such as Director Mix can generate thousands of ad variations from one generic ad. These tools can also track performance across all the different ad variations allowing you to determine the top-performing audiences and creative versions. 

Content & Messaging — Showcase Your Brand Personality: Superstore’s ads stand out from the competitive set with their humorous brand voice and use of memes, whereas other grocery retailers convey a more neutral and serious tone of voice in their ad copy. Using a casual tone of voice in your ad copy makes your brand more relatable and approachable. 

Display Tactic — Mobile Advertising: On average, the competitive set allocates 6% of their display spend towards mobile devices. This highlights an area of opportunity as more consumers are shopping via online grocery apps and consumers are spending 25% more time on mobile apps during quarantine. 


Superstore has invested roughly double the amount of budget in digital advertising versus Sobeys, Safeway and Whole Foods over the past two years.

Please note that this data excludes most retargeting spend & Instagram and should be considered only as directional, not exact figures.


Superstore’s YouTube budget is almost 5X higher compared to Sobeys which has the second highest YouTube spend. Whole Foods focuses their efforts on display ads, where the majority (82%) of their ads are published on amazon.ca.

Please note that this data excludes most retargeting spend & Instagram and should be considered only as directional, not exact figures.


Compared to larger integrated retailers, Superstore’s digital advertising investment is most comparable to Walmart’s Canadian ad spend. Costco runs less than $1M of digital ads per year in Canada.

Please note that this data excludes most retargeting spend & Instagram and should be considered only as directional, not exact figures.

Superstore’s ad spend YTD is down by -45% compared to last year. Superstore has kept their monthly ad spend around $250K throughout 2020, whereas in previous years they have ramped up ad spend significantly starting in October.

Please note that this data excludes most retargeting spend & Instagram and should be considered only as directional, not exact figures.


Superstore shifted their focus from Brand Awareness YouTube ads towards lower funnel conversion ads on Facebook. For the first time, Facebook ad spend exceeded YouTube spend throughout the entire year in 2020. 

Please note that this data excludes most retargeting spend & Instagram and should be considered only as directional, not exact figures.


Since 2018, Superstore ramped up YouTube spend during its last quarter (Oct. - Dec.) however this year in 2020, YouTube spend is at its all time low with an average monthly spend of $29K. Facebook spend has remained relatively consistent over the past 3 years. 

Please note that this data excludes most retargeting spend & Instagram and should be considered only as directional, not exact figures.

Top YouTube campaigns are focused on Brand Awareness. In 2020, Superstore put a spin on their SLAM campaign by referencing COVID-19 and showcasing how families are “crushing it while staying home.”

Truly Super, SLAM Campaign, Summer Camp & Covid-19 SLAM

For the 2019 SLAM campaign, Superstore featured one generic creative that was targeted to a broader audience, and three personalized creatives that could be used for interest and demographic targeting.

Generic | Spend: $890K | Impressions: 34M | CPM: $26.44

Ethnic | Spend: $321K | Impressions: 12M | CPM: $26.44

Party Planner | Spend: $97K | Impressions: 3.7M | CPM: $26.44

Environmentally Conscious | Spend: $218K | Impressions: 8.3M | CPM: $26.44

Fashion-Forward | Spend: $139K | Impressions: 5.3M | CPM: $26.44


Superstore took a similar approach with the 2020 Summer Camp campaign where they featured different creative for each of their ads such as a BBQ grill for males/fathers, and tents for the camping enthusiast. Tailor your ads to specific audiences by customizing the text, featured products, images, and sounds to create personalized messaging.  

Fathers/Males | Spend: $93K | Impressions: 3.5M | CPM: $26.44

Mothers | Spend: $23K | Impressions: 352K | CPM: $26.39

Camping Enthusiast | Spend: $11K | Impressions: 426K | CPM: $26.54

For Facebook advertising, Superstore focused on CSR ads pre COVID-19, however in 2020, they shifted their focus onto conversion ads that advertise digital flyers and PC Optimum reward points.


Superstore’s brand personality shines through in their Facebook ads through their humorous brand voice and use of memes, whereas the competitive set uses a more neutral and serious tone of voice. Superstore uses a more casual tone of voice in their ad copy, and includes popular culture references through the use of memes in the form of a short video/GIF.

Ad #1, Ad #2, Ad #3

On Facebook, Superstore shifted their creative strategy for product ads from kitchenware to cold and flu relief products due to the ongoing pandemic.

The top ad format on Facebook is link posts, which make up 50% of total ad spend. Link posts align with their main objective on Facebook which is to drive conversions and traffic to the site.

On Facebook, Superstore targets female iOS users who live in metropolitan cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.

Display has the lowest spend compared to all other channels. The main objective for display ads is conversions and driving traffic to the site. Display ads tend to be product-focused with promo codes or in-store offers.

The top display site category is news & entertainment, with diply.com being the top site, followed by kijiji.ca and gamespot.com.

In 2018 and 2019, mobile and desktop spend was fairly even, however in 2020, 100% of ad spend was attributed towards mobile display. 

On average, the competitive set allocated 6% of their display ad spend towards mobile devices. This highlights an area of opportunity as online grocery apps are becoming increasingly more popular and consumers are spending 25% more time on mobile apps during quarantin


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