Study Finds Big Disconnect Between Ad Execs And Average American Commuters

More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the commuting patterns, the ad industry appears to be out of touch with the reality of most Americans.

That's the findings of a study analyzing the current commuting behaviors of U.S. ad execs, as well as their perceptions of consumers, released Thursday by audio media giant Cumulus Media.

The analysis compared a Nielsen survey of American commuting behavior conducted in March with an Advertiser Perceptions study of 300 ad execs commuting habits, as well as their perceptions of average Americans.

The analysis finds that the percentage of ad execs currently commuting to their offices (63%) is markedly lower than the percentage of average Americans doing so (86%).

The study also found that among ad execs who are commuting, they are averaging only three days in their office weekly and that people who work in larger ad organizations (1,000+ employees) are averaging less (2.88 days weekly) vs. those working in smaller organizations (fewer than 1,000 employees) (3.54 days weekly).



Unrelated to commuting, the Advertiser Perceptions study also found that 41% of ad executives have "resumed in-person media vendor meeting," while 33% have resumed attending in-person industry conferences and events.

Among ad execs currently working from home, "one-in-three" do not plan to return to the office full-time, while those who are commuting partially, 25% do not plan to return to the office full-time.

Perhaps the most important finding of the analysis is the distortion between ad executive perceptions vs. the reality of average American commuters (see chart below).

“The average American will be exposed to billboard and radio ads more often than individuals working in marketing and at media agencies," Cumulus Executive Vice President-Marketing Suzanne Grimes noted about the media exposure implications of the analysis, adding, “Companies are navigating how and when their employees should return to the office. This first-ever look at the commuting patterns of marketing and agency personnel gives our peers a chance to understand how the industry is reacting, as well as compare those commuting habits to the average American.”

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