Archived [2014-09-23] - Procedures for Planning, Contracting and Evaluating Advertising

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Procedures for Planning, Contracting and Evaluating Advertising

Government advertising is centrally co-ordinated. Requirement 23 (Advertising) of the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada requires institutions to co-ordinate their advertising activities with Privy Council Office (PCO) and Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). Advertising is defined in the Communications Policy.

The procedures outlined below have been established to ensure that the management of Government of Canada advertising is transparent, accountable and provides value for money. Institutions must manage their advertising activities in accordance with them.

Advertising Management Process

In addition to their own internal processes and approvals, institutions work closely with PCO and PWGSC in the development and implementation of advertising initiatives.

Officers in the Advertising Co-ordination and Partnership Directorate (ACPD) and the Communications Procurement Directorate (CPD) of PWGSC advise institutions on transactions that must occur at each stage of the advertising management process. As do strategic communications analysts in the Communications and Consultation Secretariat of PCO.

Six basic stages are involved in the development and execution of an advertising initiative. Outlined below – from planning to contracting and post-campaign evaluation – they apply to most advertising initiatives. Each stage may be shorter in some cases, depending on the size, scope and nature of an initiative.

1. Planning and Approval

Institutions proceed as follows during the planning stage:

  1. Institutions submit their proposals for advertising initiatives to PCO twice a year: on June 30 and December 31. Institutions should begin their planning process well in advance of these deadlines.

    Note: Institutions may choose to submit joint proposals. In these cases, a lead institution must be identified for purposes of implementation. The lead institution becomes responsible for the initiative, from preparing the proposal and obtaining the required approvals, to implementing the initiative, reporting on it and being financially accountable for its budget.

  2. Institutions prepare their proposals using the Advertising Management Information System (AdMIS) administered by PWGSC. Proposals must take into account relevant government priorities and policies, and relevant public opinion or focus group research, as well as outline the advertising objectives, key messages, measurable outcomes, required budget, and whether any public access services will be used (i.e. 1 800 O-Canada, the Canada Site, and/or Publiservice). Proposals also must take into account the need for tailoring national ad campaigns to specific regions and audiences. Institutions may wish to consult their PCO strategic communications analyst before officially submitting their proposals via AdMIS.
  3. Advertising proposals submitted are reviewed by PCO, horizontal strategic communications working groups and/or the Government Advertising Committee (GAC), which is an interdepartmental committee chaired by PCO. More information about the review process, the role of GAC and the development and approval of the Government Advertising Plan is available from the PCO strategic communications analyst advising on your proposal. Analysts inform institutions if their advertising proposals are to be reviewed by GAC and advise on presentations.
  4. Reviewed proposals are brought forward to Cabinet for approval under the Government Advertising Plan. PCO notifies institutions of Cabinet decisions.
  5. Following Cabinet approval, institutions must prepare Treasury Board submissions to access advertising funds for their initiatives. The Treasury Board approves funding for the following activities that are directly related to advertising: pre-campaign benchmarking and focus testing, creative planning and production, media planning and buying, and post-campaign evaluation. Advertising fund allocations are posted on the Treasury Board Secretariat's Web Site.

Following Cabinet and Treasury Board approvals, institutions may implement their advertising initiatives.

2. Contracting for Advertising Services

Once advertising proposals are approved, and before selecting or meeting with an advertising services supplier, institutions must contact ACPD and CPD to initiate the contracting and implementation process. Contract information on approved advertising initiatives is entered into AdMIS for reporting purposes and to help track projects at each stage in the process.

Institutions proceed as follows during the contracting stage:

  1. Before selecting or meeting with an advertising services supplier, an institution must submit a statement of work for its advertising initiative to the ACPD.
  2. The ACPD reviews the scope of work, makes recommendations as appropriate, and issues a project registration number to the institution and the CPD, which then begins the procurement process. CPD draws on established procurement tools to acquire advertising services from qualified suppliers, such as strategic planning, creative services, production and media planning.
  3. The CPD works in collaboration with the ACPD and the institution to select the most appropriate procurement tool and supplier. The CPD manages the procurement process. It has responsibility for the selection of suppliers and the issuance of all contracts, standing offers, supply arrangements and call-ups for advertising services.
  4. Except in situations where a standing offer is used, institutions participate in the bid evaluation process in collaboration with the ACPD and CPD.
  5. Once the CPD issues an advertising contract, the institution is responsible for managing the contract and ensuring proper administration and financial documentation. Advertising procurement activities are subject to the Treasury Board Common Services Policy and Contracting Policy and must fully conform with the Financial Administration Act.

Note: Institutions have the option of contracting separately for advertising-related activities, either through CPD or under their delegated contracting authorities.

3. Advertising Production

Institutions work with their selected contractors to develop the advertising strategy and design, and to create the final advertising materials for print, broadcast or electronic media.

Institutions must advise the ACPD and CPD of any changes to the original scope of work or media-buy strategy since these changes may require a contract amendment from the CPD and a new ADV number from the ACPD – see below, "Media Planning" for more on ADV numbers.

In addition, institutions must report to the ACPD on contracts, amendment values and production expenditures via AdMIS.

Institutions may use any of the following Service Canada services in their advertising initiatives:

  • 1 800 O-Canada – the government's toll free information line
  • – the government's primary site on the Internet
  • – the government's intranet site for the Public Service

When use of these services is formally approved as part of an advertising initiative, for implementation, please refer to the Procedures for 1 800 O-Canada, the Canada Site, Consultation Postings, and Publiservice.

4. Pre-Testing

Institutions must pre-test all major advertising initiatives – i.e., campaigns exceeding $400,000 in media buy – to help ensure they will meet stated objectives. Such testing, which can include focus groups and other forms of marketing research, is contracted through the CPD in collaboration with PWGSC's Public Opinion Research Directorate (PORD).

An institution must consult with its strategic communication analyst at PCO on its plans for pre-testing. The results of any pre-testing must be shared with PCO and PORD.

PORD co-ordinates public opinion research for the Government of Canada, including advertising-related research such as pre-testing and post-campaign surveys. For more information, please refer to the Procedures for Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research.

5. Media Placement

Institutions develop media-buy plans with their advertising services suppliers, review and approve them internally, submit them to their PCO strategic communications analyst for review, and then submit them to the ACPD to obtain an authorization for the purchase of media space. Plans must fully comply with an institution's communications obligations under the Official Languages Act.

The Government of Canada uses an Agency of Record to purchase media space for government advertising. The CPD selects this agency on behalf of the Crown, and the ACPD manages the relationship as the program authority.

Institutions submit their media-buy plans to the ACPD, which issues an ADV number authorizing the Agency of Record to purchase media space.

To obtain an ADV number, institutions must provide, through AdMIS, the following information to the ACPD:

  • The institution's name, contact person, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address.
  • The name of theadvertising services supplier, contact person, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address.
  • The title of the advertising campaign and the government program it supports.
  • The applicable project registration number and a copy of the signed Requisition for Goods and Services and Construction form (PWGSC-TPSGC 9200) associated with the media placement funding.
  • A completed Media Planning Template.
  • Advertising samples – final versions of both English and French ads for print, television, radio, Internet, or other media as applicable. Drafts will be accepted while the advertising samples are under revision; however, final samples must be submitted as soon as they are ready.
  • The total estimated production and media placement costs.
  • The affirmation that GAC or the PCO strategic communications analyst has reviewed and approved the media plan.

Once the ADV number is issued, ACPD will forward the request to CPD. CPD will then issue a Work Authorization, which includes the media plan, to the Agency of Record. Following receipt of the ADV number and Work Authorization, the Agency of Record proceeds with the media buy.

Note 1: ACPD may withhold issuing an ADV number, and CPD may withhold issuing a Work Authorization, from an institution if all requirements are not met. The Agency of Record cannot purchase media space for an institution unless both the Work Authorization and ADV number have been issued.

Note 2: Public notices such as those regarding tenders, sales, public hearings, offers of employment, business hours and addresses, are included in the definition of advertising. Contracts for the planning, creation and production of these advertisements must be issued by CPD. However, institutions have the option of purchasing media space for public notices directly from the media outlets.

6. Post-Campaign Evaluation and Reporting

Institutions are required to conduct a post-campaign evaluation of all major advertising initiatives exceeding $1,000,000 in media buys. Campaigns of similar magnitude involving the participation of multiple institutions also must be evaluated, even though the cost of the media buy to each participating institution may be less than $1,000,000.

Post-campaign research is an integral part of an advertising initiative and must be included in the planning process – ensuring the project budget has sufficient resources to complete an evaluation, and identifying indicators to measure success when the campaign has ended.

Institutions work with the CPD and PORD to research and evaluate the impact and value of their advertising initiatives. The CPD manages the procurement process and issues the evaluation contract based on the scope of work provided by the institution. For more on PORD's role, please refer to the Procedures on Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research.

The Advertising Campaign Evaluation Tool is used to evaluate major advertising campaigns. It consists of a series of standardized questions to be included at the beginning of a post-campaign survey. It allows institutions to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and strategies for communicating with Canadians on government priorities, information and services. Results collected through this process are used to help inform future advertising plans and campaigns.

Institutions are responsible for ensuring the quality of their evaluations and for sharing the results with other government institutions. Reports on evaluation findings must be forwarded to PORD as soon as they are completed and shared with the institution's PCO strategic communications analyst, who may recommend a presentation to GAC.

Note: As for all public opinion research projects, institutions are responsible for providing final reports of pre-testing and evaluation to Library of Parliament and to Library and Archives Canada within six months following the completion of survey fieldwork.

Advertising in Emergency or Crisis Situations

Institutions may determine that advertising is required to communicate information to Canadians in an emergency or crisis situation. Advertising in this context requires excellent co-ordination as institutions at the federal, provincial and local level may be involved.

Proposals to advertise during a crisis or emergency are addressed by contacting – at any time such a contingency may arise – the PCO strategic communications analyst assigned to your institution.

Institutions responsible for producing advertising or paid public notices in an emergency or crisis must consult with PCO and PWGSC (ACPD and CPD) to help to facilitate the process, while respecting approval processes and authorities.

Documentation Standards

Institutions must retain, in an organized manner, complete documentation of the activities related to an advertising project. Maintaining thorough, chronological records, from the planning stage to post-evaluation, enables successors (staff, managers and auditors) to rebuild the history of an ad campaign and fully understand the decisions made, what changes took place, who made them, when they were made and why.

PWGSC has developed the Documentation Standard for Advertising Project Files to assist institutions in documenting project files for each phase of an advertising campaign.

Institutions also must ensure that the information compiled in AdMIS is complete, including all estimates, contracts, amendments to contracts, and information on expenditures. Electronic files can be attached to AdMIS to simplify the management of archived records.


Contact Advertising Co-ordination and Partnerships Directorate by e-mail
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Telephone: 613-992-4298

Contact Communication Procurement Directorate by e-mail
Public Works and Government Services Canada
Telephone: 613-998-0440

Contact Advertising and Marketing, Communications and Consultations by e-mail
Privy Council Office
Telephone: 613-957-5262