The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the day-to-day lives of nearly every consumer the world over. Nowhere does this resonate more than for office workers with traditional nine-to-five day jobs, many of which were forced to bring the office home. More time at home for consumers means more exposure to media in all of its forms.
And the longer Americans work from home, the greater the likelihood that their recently developed media habits will stick around. “A future where consumers spend more time at home has implications beyond longer time spent with media in general,” Nielsen says in a follow-up post to its Total Audience Report: Work from Home Edition. “It means more opportunities for local businesses and communities to grow as well as more of a focus that marketers should be placing on them.”
This massive migration of people into an alternate work setting appears to have only rekindled Americans’ love affair with audio. As Inside Radio reported last week, audio is a constant companion for the remote employee. Three quarters of adults measured by Nielsen said they listen to music, such as broadcast radio or streaming music services, during their work-from-home hours and 40% of those listeners do so daily. With at-work listening in offices and factory floors long a radio strength, that high level is to be expected. Radio scored higher than all other media options as a working companion.
“When the pandemic kept consumers in the confines of their respective homes, they turned to their old friend, radio, to keep them company and inform them, as it has always done so reliably throughout history,” Nielsen says in More than Dialed In: Audio is a Co-Worker Remote Employees Can Rely On.
Importantly, AM/FM radio remains the centerpiece of the audio universe, reaching more than nine-in-10 U.S. adults each week, more than any other media platform, including 95% of Hispanic adults 18 and older.
Nielsen’s follow-up Wirepost to last week’s Total Audience Report identifies two other major audio trends of the pandemic era:
Work-from-home-ers are fixated on local
People working from home and under stay at home orders are looking to local and familiar radio and podcast hosts to keep them up to date on the ever-shifting pandemic guidelines and civil unrest across the country, Nielsen says. When working from home, four-in-10 people listening to spoken word audio sourced their local news from current event podcasts and all news or news/talk radio stations. Over half of survey respondents (53%) said they listened to talk radio, radio news and podcasts weekly.
Technology is Enabling Audio Dependence
For those working from home and enjoying high-quality music or talk radio in the background, smart speakers and voice assistants can simplify the multi-tasking media experience, enabling people to seamlessly work, and control volume and channels. “Consumers are complementing their broadcast radio use by streaming audio through their smaller, personal mobile devices,” Nielsen says. Among adults, the weekly use of smartphones and tablets grew 28% and 20%, respectively, compared with the same quarter last year.
“Remote working has placed a newfound focus on our immediate surroundings,” said Peter Katsingris, Senior VP, Audience Insights, Nielsen. “Many Americans have turned to radio and podcasts, even during work hours, to help them stay informed and connected to their community. Brands may want to tailor their messages to better capture the attention of multi-tasking listeners, address consumers’ concerns around their community, and focus on building trust.”
The pandemic has brought shifts in media behavior and audio is no exception, said Katsingris. “But even post-pandemic, it’s likely that many companies will embrace a larger remote workforce,” he says. “Meaning, that these behavior changes could be permanent. As a marketer, thinking about more audio-integrated stories might be a great way to connect with your audience.”