Two recently conducted studies reveal the average American is exposed more frequently to billboards and AM/FM radio ads compared to marketers and media agencies. This is because twice as many marketers and media agencies are working from home as the average American.
Nielsen’s study of average Americans was conducted in March 2022 among 1,000 adult 18+ consumers. It was Nielsen’s eighth in a series of consumer studies released since April 2020 measuring the pandemic’s impact on consumer movement, spending, attitudes, and media usage.
The second study is from Advertiser Perceptions, the gold standard in measuring marketer and media agency sentiment. The April 2022 Advertiser Perceptions survey was commissioned by the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group® and surveyed 300 marketers/media agencies probing their personal commuting habits and perceptions of the average American commute.
Here are key findings from the two studies:
Nielsen: 86% of pre-COVID commuters are now working outside the home
Among U.S. workers who commuted prior to the pandemic, Nielsen reports 86% are now working out of the home. This return to work is reflected in AM/FM radio’s audience recovery. Since April 2020, the proportion of workers commuting outside of the home has increased from 48% to 86%.
Marketers and agencies are commuting less than the average American
Advertiser Perceptions finds only 63% of marketers and agencies are commuting versus 86% of all Americans, according to Nielsen. Advertiser Perceptions reports 37% of marketers and media agencies are working from home compared to only 14% of average Americans (Nielsen).
22% of marketers and agencies commute most days while 41% are in the office some days according to Advertiser Perceptions
Advertiser Perceptions: Marketers and agencies who commute average three days a week in the office
The smaller the brand/agency, the greater the number of days worked in the office. Marketing and media agencies with less than 50 employees report spending nearly four days a week in the office. Smaller brands and agencies with 1-999 employees work 3.54 days at the office. Larger brands and media agencies with 1,000+ employees average 2.88 days in the office.
Among marketer and agency personnel who are working from home, one in three do not plan to return to the office full time
For those partially commuting, 25% do not plan to return to the office full time. One-third of media agencies and marketers are unsure when they’ll be returning to the office.
Advertiser Perceptions: 41% of marketers/agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings and 33% are already attending in-person conferences/events
Perception vs. reality: Marketers and agencies underestimate how many Americans are working outside the home
Marketers and agencies perceive 72% of employed Americans are commuting while the Nielsen reality is higher at 86%. Marketers and agencies perceive twice as many Americans are working from home than Nielsen reports.
Marketers and agencies believe 28% of Americans are working from home. In reality, only 14% of pre-COVID U.S. commuters are still working from home. No wonder marketers and brands underappreciate the impact of outdoor and AM/FM radio advertising.
Marketers and agencies need to take the “me out of media”
Marketers and agencies believe that since they work from home, so must the rest of the country.
Bob Hoffman, a long-time ad agency executive and now an in-demand speaker at industry conferences, asks: “How can professional people who work in an industry that is largely constructed on media behavior be so astoundingly misinformed? The answer is pretty simple. Marketing people are living in a world of their own.”
Why are media agencies and their clients so out of sync with actual consumer media habits? Legendary marketing professor Mark Ritson explains, “There is increasing global evidence that marketers are basing their media choices on their own behaviour or that stoked by the digitally obsessed marketing media, rather than actual audience data.”
In the best-selling marketing strategy book How Not To Plan: 66 Ways to Screw It Up, Les Binet and Sarah Carter remind agencies and brands, “We’re marketing and communication people, we’re different from the majority. In the US and UK, we’re less than 1% of the population. We tend to be younger. … And we live in a handful of big cities. So it’s all too easy for us overlook how different our lifestyles and perceptions are from the people we talk to.”
- Nielsen: 86% of pre-COVID commuters are now working outside the home
- Marketers and agencies are commuting less than the average American
- 22% of marketers and agencies commute most days while 41% are in the office some days
- Advertiser Perceptions: Marketers and agencies who commute average three days a week in the office
- Among marketer and agency personnel who are working from home, one in three do not plan to return to the office full time
- Advertiser Perceptions: 41% of marketers/agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings and 33% are already attending in-person conferences/events
- Perception vs. reality: Marketers and agencies underestimate how many Americans are working outside the home and underappreciate the impact of outdoor and AM/FM radio advertising
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media | Westwood One and President of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.