Marketer Commute Trends Show Promise For AM/FM Perception


    For the first time post-pandemic, the commuting patterns of marketers and media agencies align closely with those of average Americans. With the shift comes a wind of change that could blow much-needed national ad revenue to AM/FM radio.

    Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group has released the fifth edition of its Advertiser Perceptions study, which surveyed 305 media agencies and brands over ten days in April. The twice-yearly study reveals a significant shift in commuting patterns among marketers and media agencies. The last version was released in November.

    Currently, 87% of marketers and media agencies commute to the office, a substantial rise from 63% in April 2022. 41% of these professionals are now working in the office most days, doubling the 22% recorded in April 2022. Conversely, the proportion of those working exclusively from home has dropped from 37% in April 2022 to just 13% in April 2024, marking the lowest level in the post-pandemic era.

    Complementing these findings, a MARU/Matchbox study conducted in April 2024 among 1,617 adults shows that 85% of average Americans are commuting to work. This figure, consistent over the past two years, closes the gap between the general public and the marketing industry, which historically had a higher rate of remote work.

    In addition to marketer commuting trends, the study highlights the dominance of AM/FM radio in in-car ad-supported audio. According to Edison Research’s Q4 2023 Share of Ear report, AM/FM radio holds an 86% share of ad-supported audio content in cars, a figure that has remained steady in the high 80s since 2017. This dominance underscores the importance of traditional radio in reaching out-of-home audiences, especially as office commutes increase.

    Despite the return-to-office trend, digital audio platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, and podcasts, which are primarily consumed at home, are less impacted.

    “For marketers and media agencies, the message is clear: Out-of-home media audiences have roared back as billboards, digital signage, and AM/FM radio offer mass reach at full pre-pandemic levels,” says Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard.

    The average number of days marketers and agencies spend in the office has increased to four days, up from 3.8 days in April 2023. Specifically, the proportion of those working four or more days in the office has grown from 58% to 65%, while those working one to three days have decreased from 42% to 36%. Meanwhile, average Americans are clocking slightly more days at work, averaging 4.3 days compared to the advertising industry’s four days. This slight difference suggests that typical Americans are more exposed to outdoor ads and AM/FM radio commercials due to their increased commuting days.

    Cumulus also found that 61% of marketers and agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings, and 60% have resumed attending conferences and events. An additional 30% of media agencies and advertisers plan to resume in-person vendor meetings within the next six months, while 28% intend to resume attending conferences and events in the same period.

    These findings highlight the significant shifts in commuting patterns and office attendance among marketers and media agencies, bringing their habits more in line with those of the general public. As the industry adapts to these changes, traditional media channels like AM/FM radio continue to play a crucial role in reaching audiences, especially as more professionals return to their offices and daily commutes.


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