Marketers and agencies are increasing their commutes and spending more time at the office, according to a new Advertiser Perceptions study of 303 media agencies and brands commissioned by the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®. Interviews took place October 3-10, 2022 and the results were compared to the same study conducted in April 2022.
The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group® also commissioned a Maru/BLUE study to examine the commuting habits of everyday Americans. The nationally representative study was conducted November 9, 2022 among 1,516 adults 18+. These results were compared to the same questions asked by Nielsen over last three years.
The studies revealed that despite growth in brand and agency commutes, the marketing industry is still working from home more than the average American. Compared to marketers and agencies, the average American is exposed more frequently to billboards, out-of-home advertising, and AM/FM radio ads.
Here are the key findings:
76% of marketers and agencies now commute to the office, up from 63% in Spring but still less than average Americans
From April to October, the number of marketers and agencies working in the office “most days” increased from 22% to 33%. The proportion who only work from home dropped from 37% to 23%.
87% of Americans are commuting to work, 15% more than marketers and agencies
Among total Americans who commuted to work prior to the pandemic, the Maru/BLUE study found 87% say they are currently working outside of the home. This is virtually the same proportion that Nielsen reported in March 2022 (86%).
The average number of marketer/agency office days grew from 3 to 3.5 but is less than the 4.3 days of average Americans
Those in the advertising business who work four or more days in the office increased from 41% to 48%. Those clocking one or two days at work dropped from 33% to 28%. Those working three days a week held steady (25% in April to 24% in October).
Average Americans are clocking more days at work compared to the marketing industry
- 28% of marketers and agencies work 1 or 2 days at their workplace compared to only 12% of everyday Americans.
- 24% of brands and agencies work 3 days at the office compared to just 10% of the total U.S.
- Twice as many average Americans are commuting 5 days a week (56%) compared to the marketing industry (26%).
Increases in days in the office were driven by very large marketers and agencies
In April 2022, small advertising companies were at the office much more than large firms. This Fall, the most significant growth in days in the office came from marketing firms with 1000+ or more employees.
While very large marketing organizations with 5000+ employees have increased their days in the office, they still lag behind the rest of the industry and average Americans.
Of the 23% of brands and agencies who are still working from home, half say they are never coming back full time
When agencies and advertisers who still work from home were asked when they will be returning to the office, 49% say they will not be returning to the office and 37% have no idea. 14% say they’ll return within the next six months.
Among average Americans who are still working from home, nearly half (48%) expect to be returning their workplace within a year. Among agencies and brands who are still working from home, only 14% say they’ll return to the office within a year.
62% of marketers and agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings, up from 41% in Spring
An additional 25% say they will resume in-person media vendor meetings in the next six months.
58% of marketers and agencies have resumed in-person conferences and events, up nearly 2X from Spring, and 24% say they will begin attending conferences in the next three months
The massive turnout at the recent Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing conference puts an exclamation point on the return of in-person industry conferences. In the last six months, the proportion of marketers and agencies who say they have resumed attending industry events has increased 2X from 33% to 58%. 28% say they’ll begin attending in-person conferences within six months.
Marketers and agencies need to take the “me out of media”
Some marketers and agencies believe that since so many of their colleagues still work from home, so must the rest of the country. This leads agencies and brands to incorrectly assume reduced audiences to out-of-home media and AM/FM radio.
This new data proves that this is not the case. The vast majority of average Americans are back to work. The commuting habits of the ad industry do not align with America.
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.”
- Marketers and agencies have increased their commutes and days in the office but still lag behind the average American
- Compared to marketers and agencies, the average American is exposed more frequently to billboards, out-of-home advertising, and AM/FM radio ads
- 76% of marketers and agencies now commute to the office, up from 63% in Spring, according to an October 2022 Advertiser Perceptions study
- 87% of total U.S. pre-COVID commuters are now working outside the home, according to a November 2022 Maru/BLUE study
- 33% of marketers and agencies commute most days while 43% are in the office some days
- Among marketer and agency personnel who are working from home, half say they do not plan to return to the office full time
- Half of average Americans working from home expect to return to their workplace within a year
- 62% of marketers/agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings and 58% are already attending in-person conferences/events
Pierre Bouvard is the Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.