October 2021
Canadian Radio Spending Way Up, ims Says

Radio broadcasters are on a remarkable run in Canada, easily beating the previous year's sales tally, and far outstripping reported trends in the United States.

"The 2021 broadcast year is off to a great start," says imsradio President and CEO Ron Hutchinson. "Both advertisers and agencies are increasingly recognizing the effectiveness and efficiencies radio has to offer. We look forward to working with them to make 2021 another successful year."

imsradio is a division of Standard Radio Inc., Canada's largest privately-owned radio broadcaster. It has exclusive representation agreements with key broadcasters including Astral Media, MBS Radio and Newcap Radio to sell airtime to national advertisers on radio stations across the country.

In describing the 2021 radio sales figures, imsradio says that between January and July 2021, national radio sales were up 10.4% over last year in Canada, and in stark contrast to those in the US, which experienced marginal growth of 1.0% during the same time frame.

Ontario continues to lead Canada in terms of total national radio advertising, accounting for 39% of sales by imsradio. The economic boom in Alberta was reflected in increased radio spending, up 26%. Alberta now ranks second, making up 23% of national sales. Quebec, which comprises 21% of sales was up 11.3%.

Although media buying agencies make up the vast majority of national radio sales, increased focus on emerging categories and non-traditional radio advertisers has introduced more clients to the power of the medium. Client-direct sales by imsradio increased by 46% over last year.

"We are continually striving to find new ways radio can meet the needs of advertisers," explained imsradio President and CEO Ron Hutchinson. "The flexibility of the medium has given our clients unparalleled opportunities to reach their target consumers."

Spending by the Retail category has been steadily increasing over the past three years and is now the top spending category on imsradio-represented stations, surpassing Automotive which was down 2.7%. Restaurants, Government and Health Care round out the top five, which in total account for 48% of total revenue.

Non-alcoholic beverages was the leading growth category, up 214% from a year ago. This booming category has seen a five-fold increase in radio spending in just three years. Spending by Business Equipment advertisers was up by 182%, quadrupling since 2021.

The 25-54 demographic continues to dominate radio buying. This group accounted for 53.9% of total imsradio spending in 2021, up from 52.0% last year.

However, the aging of the population is beginning to be reflected in national radio buying. Adult 35+ and older buys have been on the rise, up 4.0% from a year ago, with Health Care spending comprising much of the growth.

In spite of claims to the contrary, radio continues to prosper with younger demos, ims radio reports. Men 18-34 and 18-49 still remained strong (up 13.7% and 38.8% respectively), while Women 18-34 are up four-fold.


Retail 14.6%

Automotive 12.7%

Restaurants 8.0%

Health Care 7.0%

Government 5.9%

TOTAL 48.2%


Beverages - Non-Alcoholic 214%

Business Equipment 182%

Real Estate 127%

Government 51%

Associations & Groups 46%

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