In March 2023, the number of U.S. air travelers matched volumes from the same month in 2019. This is the first time since the pandemic that air travel volumes have equaled 2019 levels. Meanwhile, Kastle Systems, the firm that runs the security systems for major office buildings in the top ten cities, reports security card swipe volumes are half of pre-pandemic levels.
What is the latest on the state of media agency and marketer commuting patterns?
Marketers and agencies are increasing their commutes and spending more days at the office, according to a new Advertiser Perceptions study of 302 media agencies and brands commissioned by the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®. Interviews took place April 4-12, 2023 and the results were compared to the same study conducted in April and October 2022.
The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group® also commissioned a MARU/Matchbox study to examine the commuting habits of everyday Americans. The nationally representative study was conducted April 2023, among 1,020 adults 18+. These results were compared to the same questions asked by Nielsen during 2020 to 2022.
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:
81% of marketers and agencies now commute to the office, up from 63% a year ago but still less than average Americans (86%)
In April 2023 the number of marketers and agencies working in the office “most days” increased to 37%, up from 22% in April 2022. The proportion who only work from home dropped from 37% in April 2022 to 19% in April 2023.
Since October 2022, there have been modest shifts with fewer agencies and advertisers working at home only and more “most day” commuting.
86% of average Americans are commuting to work, 5% more than marketers and agencies
Among average Americans who commuted to work prior to the pandemic, the MARU/Matchbox study found 86% say they are currently working outside of the home. This is virtually the same proportion Maru/Blue found in October 2022 and that Nielsen reported in March 2022.
The “back to the office” gap between average Americans and brands/media agencies is closing. A year ago, there was a 23-point difference in the proportion of average Americans working outside the home and the advertising industry. Today, there is only a five-point difference.
The average number of marketer/agency office days grew from three to 3.7 over the last year
Versus a year ago, those in the advertising business who work four or more days at the office increased from 41% to 58%. Those clocking one to three days at the office dropped from 58% to 42%. Currently, marketers and media agencies report spending 3.7 days in the office, up from three days in April 2022.
Average Americans are clocking more days at the office (5.3) compared to the advertising industry (3.7)
Compared to ad industry workers, typical Americans are more likely to be exposed to outdoor ads and AM/FM radio commercials since they commute more days. Since some Americans work six or even seven days a week, their average days worked (5.3) slightly exceeds the standard five-day work week.
“Never coming back”: Of the 19% of brands and agencies who are still working from home, over 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, 55% say they will not be returning to the office and 39% have no idea. Just 6% say they’ll return within the next year.
60% of marketers and agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings; 61% have resumed in-person conference and events
An additional 26% of media agencies and advertisers say they will resume in-person media vendor meetings in the next six months. When it comes to in-person conferences and events, 26% say they will resume attending in the next six months.
- Marketers and agencies have increased their commutes and days in the office but still lag behind the average American.
- Since they commute more days, the average American is exposed more frequently to billboards, out-of-home advertising, and AM/FM radio ads than media agencies and advertisers
- 81% of marketers and agencies now commute to the office, up from 63% a year ago, according to an April 2023 Advertiser Perceptions study
- 86% of total U.S. pre-COVID commuters are now working outside the home, according to an April 2023 MARU/Matchbox study
- Among marketers and agency personnel who are working from home, half say they do not plan to return to the office full time
- 60% of marketers/agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings and 61% are already attending in-person conferences/events
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.