True Media Canada COVID-19 Media Impact, Part 2

Each week new insights and data emerge, providing a snapshot of evolving consumer behaviour as it continues to respond to the increased restrictions on physical movement and the reality that it will be many weeks before returning to “normal.”

We thank our many media and research partners who continue to report on trends each week. Below are key highlights of the actionable data and insights that have been observed thus far:

Television & video viewing continues to increase and shift by daypart, by content and by platform.

According to a survey commissioned by Rogers on Canadian media behaviours, 73% of Canadians are turning to their TV because they need an escape from all the negative news in the media, seeking comedy above all else (net +37) followed by Documentaries, Drama, Action/Thriller and Children’s Programming.

This trend also extends into connected TV. Samsung Canada released several key insights regarding the changing habits amongst its Canadian user base:

  • Streaming viewing is up 85%
  • Ad supported video on demand viewing up 91%, subscription video on demand viewing up 82%
  • Time spent with connected gaming consoles is up 118%

There is very little expectation among consumers that brands should stop advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent global Kantar study reveals that a clear majority of consumers expect to see advertising during this time. However, tone and content must be carefully considered. The study indicates the “don’ts” of messaging during this time, which include using a humourous tone and exploiting the situation to promote the brand.

Radio/Audio continue to be heavily consumed, but the place of listening, device, and formats are changing. It also offers local feel and “companionship” via known on-air personalities.

A new study from Nielsen reveals that 83% of Americans are spending more time with radio as a result of COVID-19, and 51% agreed that listening to radio helps them feel “less stressed” during this time.

How has Digital purchasing behaviour changed?

True Media Canada will continue to share research and actionable insights to help all of our clients successfully navigate the rapidly changing and difficult environment.

Spotify Introduces New Technology for Podcast Ads

Spotify recently rolled out its new Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) technology, enabling advertisers to access important podcast data such as impressions, frequency, reach, and audience demographics information, for the first time.

Podcast popularity continues to increase — up 60% since January of 2018 and expected to continue growing with 45% of listeners saying they intend to tune into more podcasts. 

“Up until now, very little performance data was available from podcasts ads. Podcasts were more of a “let’s use them because we know our audiences listen to them,” but were not able to report back meaningful data.” Senior Digital Media Strategist Margarita Klikizos explained. “Now we can see just how many people are actually listening to the ad and how they are listening. These reporting enhancements get Spotify podcasts closer to an equal playing field with other digital tactics.”

While this new technology is definitely a huge step for the podcasting world, some are concerned the space could become overcrowded as advertisers are more inclined to try it out. This is definitely a possibility, however, as more podcasts are produced there will also be more ad inventory,  so it might take a while for ad saturation to occur. 

Surprisingly, tracking hasn’t been the only thing that has kept advertisers at bay with podcast advertising. Senior Digital Media Strategist Anna Rice explains that there are a few factors that go into opting out of this tactic in campaigns, and it all comes down to your audience. 

“The inability to geo-target played a huge role in not using podcast advertisements. If I am working with more regional clients it doesn’t necessarily make sense to run a national campaign. Although now with the ability to run dynamically-inserted podcast ads (the alternative to live-reads – dynamically inserted is much more like a ‘regular’ streaming audio ad that you would hear on Pandora or Spotify for example) there is more potential for those regional clients.” said Rice. 

More options that would make podcast advertising even more attractive are being able to see how loyal listeners are to a particular podcast, as well as where loyal listeners of a specific podcast are also tuning into (i.e “Loyal listeners of xyz podcast also listen to abc podcast”).

Nonetheless, the medium is making huge strides in the right direction. With the ability to track more precisely, the podcasting sector becomes more transparent, which will attract more advertisers and continue future growth. 

Opinion: The Future of Audio


The future and the power of audio is a hot topic and True Media AMD, Elizabeth Van Kort, is here to explain how audio can be incorporated in your media strategy, both now and in the years to come.

Where do you see the audio landscape progressing in the future?

Audio and voice go hand in hand, as consumers increase their use of voice activated products, the industry must answer that demand with an increase in audio solutions. Also, as multi-tasking continues to increase, it makes sense that audio listenership would increase as well, as people are ingesting more content into their daily lives than ever before.  

How does the direction of audio effect your recommendations for client strategy? 

Audio continues to grow and be a key part of the recommendations we share with our clients; however, as agencies, we must continue to push for more targeted opportunities when audio is a channel within the overall media mix. Historically, audio has been one of the least targeted channels, but with the increase in listenership, we need to push as an industry for more targeted opportunities to reach the target audience. Additional targeting will also allow for further optimization of campaigns, giving vendors and agencies more levers to use in order to increase performance.

What are your predictions for the future of traditional radio compared to digital audio?

The merging of traditional and digital audio will continue to be an opportunity for agencies, and ultimately, for brands. SiriusXM acquiring Pandora this year was a strong signal within the industry. We cannot continue to treat traditional and digital audio in the silos they have been handled in for so many years, as the two sides continue to merge together. The key focus must be who we are reaching and not whether we have reached them via a radio tower signal or a WiFi connection. Approaching the audio channel must be done cohesively from start to finish. All audio types must be planned cohesively, purchased cohesively, executed cohesively, and analyzed cohesively.

What do you think are contributing factors to the growth of digital audio?

I think the convenience of digital audio is one of the key reasons for its growth. It’s hard to pick up a book sometimes, but it’s easy to turn on an audiobook. It’s inconvenient to go to a conference halfway across the country, but it’s easy to listen to a podcast from a leading industry expert. It takes a minute to get out your phone and search for the high temperature that day, but it’s easy to just ask Siri and have her tell you what to wear based on the weather forecast. You get the idea – convenience is king! And as consumers do more than they ever have within a 24-hour window, the convenience of audio is allowing for the ease of access and multi-tasking that consumers expect.

How do you see voice recognition devices becoming a part of campaigns as companies really taking advantage of this feature? Do you think that will continue to grow or will other forms of audio be more popular?  

Yes, I fully expect voice-activated devices to continue to be on the rise. However, what I expect to continue to shift is the number of devices in which voice activation is a feature. In a few years, we will be talking with almost every device we have in our home and at our work. Need to know the weather for the day? Ask the mirror as you brush your teeth. Need to get dinner started? Tell the oven to turn on. Need to copy a document at work? Let the printer know how many copies you need. The proliferation of voice within the IoT (Internet of Things) is going to be one of the most dramatic changes over the next decade and consumers’ expectations around user experience will skyrocket as a result. As marketers, we need to stay ahead of these innovations and understand how the preferences consumers are sharing via their voice requests can shape the advertising experience we deliver to them to be as relevant and useful as possible.