Everything Marketers Need To Know About Podcast Advertising

November 19th, 2019 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

girl listening to podcast

Marketers that want to reach a receptive, affluent, urban audience should consider tuning in to podcasts.

At a recent ACA webinar, findings from The Canadian Podcast Listener 2019 study were shared by Jeff Vidler, president of Audience Insights, and Jeff Ulster, chief content and technology officer at The Podcast Exchange (TPX) and owner of Ulster Media.

The third annual study, which surveyed 3,000+ adult Canadians and 1,500+ monthly podcast listeners, aims to help marketers understand advertising opportunities in Canada’s podcast media sector.

“Looking at growth in terms of listeners, [the podcast sector] is continuing to grow incrementally,” said Vidler. “It is based on specific regions in urban areas, with affluent and well-educated audiences.”

The study found that nearly 11 million Canadians (37% of the 18+ population) have listened to podcasts in the past year, and more than 13 million (45%) have listened at some point. B.C. has the highest concentration of monthly podcast listeners (35%), followed by Ontario (28%) Alberta (27%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (both at 25%), Atlantic Canada (23%) and Quebec (20%).

Podcast listening continues to be most popular in urban areas: Vancouver & Lower Mainland (41%), Toronto (38%) and Montreal (26%).

Podcast listeners are educated and affluent: 43% of monthly listeners have a university degree and 24% have a household income of $100,000+.

Thirty-seven percent of weekly podcast listeners are “power listeners,” listening five or more hours a week.

On the platform front, one big change this year was the emergence of Spotify as a podcast platform. The music-streaming service made significant investments in the space, including the acquisition of podcast production house Gimlet Media.

With the move, Spotify leapt to the third most popular podcast platform (24%), behind Apple Podcasts/iTunes (34%) and YouTube (43%). Among power listeners, Apple Podcasts/iTunes is number one (30%), followed by other podcast apps such as Overcast and Pocket Casts (14%), and Spotify (14%).

While YouTube doesn’t fit the profile of the typical podcast listener, “for a lot of them, it’s their go-to destination for entertainment and podcasts are just part of that,” said Vidler. “That’s where they live; it’s where they are.”

On the advertising front, podcasting is attractive because it’s an on-demand media. “You can listen to what you want, when you want, and you have a lot to choose from,” said Ulster. “So, it’s a very deliberate choice people are making.”

Podcasts also differ from other on-demand media such as audio books, paid music and paid video-stream services because advertisers can’t reach consumers there. “People are paying to have ads blocked out of those experiences,” said Ulster. “So, if you’re trying to reach this type of a consumer who privileges on-demand media, podcasting is a very unique opportunity.”

Listeners also view podcast ads as support for their favourite podcasts. More than half (52%) said they wouldn’t mind a couple of extra ads per show so that their favourite podcasts can continue. And 25% said they go out of their way to support brands that support their favourite podcasts.

The study also found that podcast ads motivate action and build awareness. Nearly six in 10 (59%) took action as a result of hearing an ad on a podcast, including searching online for more information about the product or service (31%), finding out about a product or service they hadn’t heard of before (25%), and talking to friends/family about the product or service (16%).

Podcast listeners are also less likely to avoid podcast ads than ads in any other medium: 39% avoid ads in podcasts all or most of the time, compared to 44% for AM/FM radio, 53% for TV, 54% for print newspaper/magazines, 69% for online video, and 78% for online pop-up ads.

So, whether you’re a big brand that’s looking to promote a new product service, or a new brand trying to build awareness, Ulster said: “Podcast listeners are really receptive, retain that brand and have a positive association with brands they hear on their favourite podcasts.”

RISING PODCAST STARS 2018 Rank 2019 Rank
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard #100 #6
Canadian True Crime #104 #12
Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend n/a #12
Spittin’ Chiclets #328 #20


1-The Joe Rogan Experience
2-Under the Influence
3-Freakonomics Radio
4-Stuff You Should Know
5-Mike Ward Sous Écoute


1-The Joe Rogan Experience
2-My Favorite Murder
3-This American Life
4-Stuff You Should Know
5-Canadian True Crime


Data compiled in partnership with ART19