In the Ad industry? You’re not normal. New research from Ipsos & thinktv

As an industry, we pride ourselves on staying on top of the latest trends and keeping up with the newest gadgets and offerings. Indeed, new research shows that our media habits differ significantly from the Canadian public. The problem? Those differences appear to be colouring our assumptions about how Canadians are consuming media.

Ad Nation 2020, new research from Ipsos Canada, commissioned by thinktv, surveyed both the Canadian public and the Ad Industry – marketers, agency, and media personnel – on their media habits and attitudes towards advertising. The results indicate that the Canadian public is not nearly as prolific on media as we assumed, and it may be time course correct our notions about media usage if we want to make the best advertising decisions for our businesses.

In the Ad industry? You’re not normal

How do we differ from the Canadian public? For starters, we own more stuff (at least when it comes to technology). We are significantly more likely to own a smartphone (in the ad community, 97% of us have a smartphone compared to 78% of Canadians); we’re far more likely to own a smart TV (67% compared to 38%), and we’re almost three times as likely to own either a smartwatch or smart speakers.


Secondly, we consume a wider range of content: Not only do we subscribe to far more TV subscription services (almost all of us have a Netflix subscription, for example, compared to 61% of our general survey base), we are more likely to have checked out the latest buzz-worthy subscription shows, like Tiger King (3x as likely) and Ozark (more than twice as likely).



The “false consensus effect”

The fact that our media consumption varies from the Canadian public isn’t the issue.  The challenge is that those differences appear to impact our assumptions about the rest of Canada. When we asked industry professions to estimate Canadians’ media usage, they mostly missed the mark. They over-estimated usage of established platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix, and significantly over-estimated usage of more recent platforms like Snapchat, Apple TV and TikTok (for example, Ad Nation estimated that 56% of Canadians had accessed the TikTok app in the past month when only 13% of Canadians reported a visit in the same period).

Behavioural scientists call this the “false consensus effect”: We don’t recognize that our behaviours are out of kilter to the rest of the population, and we assume everyone acts just like us.


The impact of TV advertising is strong

Although video advertising options are exploding, TV continues to deliver the most impact. Canadians reported that an ad on television is most likely to stick in their memories, make a brand more recognizable, and draw attention to a new brand or product – more so than any other medium. Furthermore, ads on TV were rated most likely to make you laugh and feel emotional, two attributes that correlate strongly with memory.



Watch the webinar

To get the full details of the study – and to see just how far from ‘normal’ we are – go to

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