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Back To The Office: Marketers And Agencies Increase Commutes And Days In The Office

-www.westwoodone.com

-November 6th, 2023

-By Pierre Bouvard


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 305 media agencies and brands commissioned by the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®. Interviews took place October 2-9, 2023 and the results were compared to the same study conducted in April 2022, October 2022, and April 2023.


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 October 2023 among 1,000 adults 18+. These results were compared to the same questions asked by Nielsen and MARU/Matchbox over the past four 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, digital signage, out-of-home advertising, and AM/FM radio ads.


Here are the key findings:


82% of marketers and agencies now commute to the office, up from 63% in April 2022 but still less than average Americans (94%)


In October 2023, 49% marketers and agencies were working in the office “most days,” an increase from 22% in April 2022. The proportion who only work from home dropped from 37% in April 2022 to 18% in October 2023.

Since April 2023, the proportion of brands and media agencies “commuting to work some days” dropped from 44% to 33% in October 2023.


94% of average Americans are commuting to work, 12% more than marketers and agencies

Among average Americans who commuted to work prior to the pandemic, the October 2023 MARU/Matchbox study found 94% are currently working outside of the home. This represents an increase from April 2023 (86%).


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 a twelve-point difference.


AM/FM radio’s share of total time spent in vehicles has surged to an eight-year high, according to Edison Research’s Q3 2023 “Share of Ear” report


Edison Research’s quarterly “Share of Ear” study is the authoritative examination of time spent with audio in America. Over the last decade, Edison Research has surveyed 4,000 Americans annually to measure daily reach and time spent for all forms of audio.


In the just released Q3 2023 study, the proportion of AM/FM radio listening occurring in a car or truck soared +13% from the prior year to 45%. This is an eight-year high, tied with Q4 2019 just before the pandemic.


The pandemic depressed AM/FM radio’s share of in-vehicle time spent from 2020 to 2022. Commutes are back and in-car AM/FM radio audiences have surged


For marketers and media agencies the message is clear: Out-of-home media audiences have roared back as billboards, digital signage, AM/FM radio, and SiriusXM offer mass reach at full pre-pandemic levels.


The return-to-work trend has less of an impact on digital audio such as Spotify, Pandora, and podcasts, which are primarily consumed at home.


The average number of marketer/agency office days grew from three to four days over the last year


Versus October 2022, those in the advertising business who work four or more days at the office increased from 48% to 61%. Compared to October 2022, those clocking just one to three days at the office dropped from 52% to 40%. Currently, marketers and media agencies report spending four days in the office, up from three days in April 2022.


The buy side is busy. 11% of media agencies and marketers are working six or seven days a week, up from 4% in April 2022.



Average Americans are clocking more days at work (4.9) compared to the advertising industry (4)


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.


“Never coming back”: Of the 18% 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, 50% say they will not be returning to the office and 30% have no idea. 20% of brands and media agencies say they’ll return within the next year.


62% of marketers and agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings; 63% have resumed in-person conference and events


An additional 28% 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, 29% say they will resume attending in the next six months.


Key findings:

  • 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.

  • 82% of marketers and agencies now commute to the office, up from 63% in April 2022, according to an October 2023 Advertiser Perceptions study.

  • 94% of total U.S. pre-COVID commuters are now working outside the home, according to an October 2023 MARU/Matchbox study.

  • AM/FM radio’s share of total time spent in vehicles has surged to an eight-year high, according to Edison Research’s Q3 2023 “Share of Ear” report.

  • Among marketers and agency personnel who are working from home, half say they do not plan to return to the office full time.

  • 62% of marketers/agencies have resumed in-person media vendor meetings and 63% are already attending in-person conferences/events.

Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.

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