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Analysis: Average Americans Outpace Agencies/Marketers' Return To Offices.

While the gap between media agency and marketing executives returning to offices vs. average Americans has shrunk considerably over the last year, the latter continue to commute more days, thereby having greater exposure to AM/FM radio advertising.

That's the key finding of an analysis of research studies in Westwood One's weekly blog, showing that according to Advertiser Perceptions' April 2023 survey of more than 300 media agencies and brands, 81% of marketing and agency employees say they are now commuting to work either all, most or some days, up from 63% in April 2022. Yet that still lags behind average Americans, according to a Cumulus Media-commissioned MARU/Matchbox study among more than 1,000 adults 18+, also in April.

When compared to Nielsen data going back to 2020, 86% of participants in the MARU/Matchbox survey who used to commute before the pandemic are currently doing so again. That's the same percentage Nielsen reported in March 2022, back when there was a 23-percentage-point difference in the proportion of average Americans vs. ad execs working outside the home. Based on MARU/Matchbox's results compared with those of Advertiser Perceptions, average Americans still have a five-point lead when it comes to working out of home.

That gap is more pronounced when looking at the trend in average number of days in the office weekly for each group. While Advertising Perceptions found that number went from 3.0 to 3.7 year-over-year for agency and marketing employees – with the percent of those commuting four or more days a week up from 41% to 58% – average Americans led by far, with an average 5.3 commuting days, reflecting some working more than five days a week, according to MARU/Matchbox.

It's likely that average Americans will maintain this edge, seeing as Advertiser Perceptions' results show that among the 19% of brand and agency execs still working from home, more than half (55%) say they are never coming back full-time, while just 6% say they will return to the office within the next year.

“Despite growth in brand and agency commutes, the marketing industry is still working from home more than the average American,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “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.”

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