90% of Car Commuters Are Listening To The Radio

According to Edison Research newly-released survey results, 9 in 10 commuters listen to traditional AM/FM radio while in their car on the way to work, with AM/FM radio easily beating out CDs (62%), own digital music files (54%) and streaming internet radio (42%) as the most common form of in-car audio during commute time.

According to the Edison Share of Ear study, commuters spend an average of 87 minutes each day listening to audio in their cars. 43% of the total sample would choose traditional AM/FM radio given only one choice, but respondents who have ever listened to streaming internet radio during their commute would stream (28%) over traditional AM/FM radio (25%).

Among those who listen to an AM/FM station that plays commercials, 29% don’t typically switch away, but 23% say they tune away immediately. Overall, 71% switch at some point during commercials: 23% tune away immediately; 25% say they listen to part of one commercial; and 23% listen to at least one commercial. Note that research released several years ago found radio delivering 93% of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks, says the report.

Interestingly, among the Edison Research respondents who listen to Pandora during their commute, 61% say they don’t switch away at a commercial break, while only 12% tune away immediately.

Commuters Response to AM/FM Radio Commercials (American adults commuting to work for more than 20 minutes or alone)

When Commercial Comes On AM/FM Radio During Commute


% of Respondents

Do not switch


Listen to at least one commercial


Listen to part of one commercial


Tune away immediately


Source: Edison Research, April 2016

Considering Internet radio, covering audio ads delivered on mobile devices, the average number of ad units per hour hovered between about 5 and 5.4 during this year, with the vast majority of these units (79-84%) being thirty seconds in length.

Internet Radio Ad Loads (2015) For 5 Radio Publishers



Ad Loads





Ad loads per hour

2m 18s

2m 32s

2m 21s

2m 29s

Number of ad units/hour





% of Ads 30s in length





Source: Xappmeida, April 2016

According to the report, the analysis only covers audio ads delivered on mobile devices and “does not attempt to quantify the number of banner ads served during a listening session” as the vast majority of listening takes place “while the device screen is blank or not viewable.”

  • The average hour of internet radio included 2 minutes and 29 seconds of audio ads in Q4, up to 6% from Q3 but down from the year-earlier average of 2 minutes and 44 seconds
  • Among the 5 publishers examined, the top 3 by ad time averaging roughly 3 minutes per hour in Q4 and the bottom 2 average 1 minute and 39 seconds
  • The average time to first ad decreased again in the 4th quarter, falling to 13 minutes and 13 seconds, a 36-second drop from Q3
  • The top advertiser in Q4 was The Home Depot, with more than 7% of all ads identified. It was followed by GEICO (4.73%), Progressive (2.66%), Discover (2.51%) and Macy’s (also 2.51%)

For additional information from Edison Research, please visit here; For more from Xappmedia, visit here.





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