Canadians spent an extra half day a month online in 2020: We Are Social report

The average time spent online by Canadians rose by more than 30 minutes in 2020, while the number of social media users increased by 2.4 million, and ecommerce spending on food and personal care increased by 30%, according to new research from social media focused agency We Are Social.

“It’s probably no surprise that in a year spent in lockdown, Canadians spent more time online, and more money on online shopping and food deliveries,” said Coby Shuman, managing director, Toronto at We Are Social. On average, Canadians spent an extra half-day a month online in 2020, spending about an hour and 46 minutes each day on social media.

“What we didn’t necessarily anticipate was how our social media use is changing, with Canadians turning to it more frequently to find information on the brands they’re interested in,” said Shuman. According to the research, traditional search engines still dominate brand research behaviour (64% of those aged 16 to 64), but nearly one-third (32%) of users now look for brand information on social media.

That data is significant, and “something that smart marketers will pay attention to in planning their campaigns in 2021,” said Shuman.

We Are Social produced the research with Hootsuite. The data present a wide-ranging overview of digital trends and habits, providing a detailed snapshot of consumer and advertiser behaviour during the pandemic:

  • While spending nearly 6.5 hours online, Canadians spent about three hours and 23 minutes watching TV each day;
  • In terms of digital device of choice, mobile represented about 38.3% of all web pages viewed (down 11% from the year before) compared to 55.9% for laptops and desktops (up 12%);
  • 65.2% expressed concern about discerning what is real online; 44.7% are concerned about how companies use personal data, and 41.3% had used some form of ad-blocker in the last month;
  • YouTube, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Twitter are the top five social platforms in Canada (see full chart below);
  • iPhone had a better year (52.1% of all traffic, up 2.2% from the year before) than Android (47.6% of all traffic, down 2.2%);
  • 26 million Canadians bought consumer goods online in 2020, up 18.2% from the year before. The average annual spend was $1,147.
  • 13.22 million Canadians ordered food delivery, a 24.7% increase from the year before.
  • $7.4 billion was the total digital ad spend in 2020 (+4%): Of that, $3.55 billion went to search (+6.2%), $1.76 billion went to social (+4%) and $972.7 million to banners (-0.3%);
  • Digital video advertising showed the most growth— 7.1%, to a total spend of $702.8 million.


David Brown