What Marketers Need To Know About Smart Speakers

May 29th, 2018 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

This sounds like an opportunity for Canadian marketers.

Smart speakers are changing consumer behaviours and forming new habits. And while penetration is relatively low in Canada, judging by trends in the U.S., an ownership boom may be imminent, according to Tom Webster, SVP at Edison Research.

Webster presented the findings of The Smart Audio Report Edison conducted in partnership with NPR during a keynote at this year’s Strategy AdTech Canada Conference. The results come from a telephone survey of 1,010 Americans 18+.

These were the key takeaways for marketers contemplating, as Webster joked, how to “ruin [smart speakers] with ads.”

  • Smart speaker penetration is around 8% in Canada. That is similar to the U.S. last year (at 7%). Today, penetration in the U.S. market is 18%.
  • Smart speakers are becoming ingrained in user’s lives. At the extreme, Webster showed a video of an empty-nester woman who considers her Amazon Echo a companion. But the research shows that consumers end up using their smart speakers for an average of eight different tasks – checking the weather, listening to music, , controlling other connected devices, for example) on a near-daily basis.
  • Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said they now spend less time using their radio, 34% said they spend less time on their smartphone and 30% said they spend less time watching TV.
  • Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they use their devices more now than when they purchased them, with 33% saying they use them about the same.

“These devices have become ingrained into a typical day in a bunch of little ways that makes them really important,” Webster said. “As a result, they’re creating new behaviours and new habits.”


  • Thirty-one percent of those surveyed used their smart speaker to add an item to their cart so they could review it later for purchase
  • Twenty-nine percent used it to research an item they might want to purchase
  • Twenty-two percent re-ordered an item they had previously purchased
  • Twenty-two percent used it to buy an item they had not previously purchased before.
  • Forty-three percent of respondents said they would like to interact with brands or companies they already follow on social media.