Why Marketers Are Misinformed About What Consumers Want

As U.S. workers settle back into a hybrid work model between office and home, Cumulus Media Westwood One Audio Active Group last week released analysis of two recently conducted commuter studies on the impact of digital-out-of-home screens on consumer perception.

Last week, findings from a study that suggests DOOH advertising encourages consumers to search for more information online were described in Inside Performance. 

If less people commute -- especially media professionals and advertisers -- I question whether or not they can really see and feel the impact of the messages they try to convey.

The first study -- conducted by Nielsen in March 2022 -- was conducted with 1,000 American adult consumers 18 years and older. The second study -- commissioned by the Audio Active Group and fielded in April 2022 -- comes from Advertiser Perceptions, a research firm for the advertising, marketing, and ad technology industries.



This study examined the personal commuting habits among 300 employees at marketers and media agencies, as well as their perceptions of how average U.S workers commute.

Suzanne Grimes, executive vice president, marketing for Cumulus Media and president at Westwood One, believes the average U.S. consumer will be exposed to billboard and radio ads more often than individuals working in marketing and at media agencies.

Is that a positive or negative thing?

"The obvious question is this -- how can professional people who work in an industry that is largely constructed on media behavior be so astoundingly misinformed?," Bob Hoffman, author and chief aggregation officer at Type A Group, according to his LinkedIn page, writes in a blog. "The answer is pretty simple. Marketing people are living in a world of their own. They don't wear the same clothes as 'average' people, they don't go to the same restaurants as average people, they don't drink the same booze, buy the same food, watch the same programs, drive the same cars, see the same movies, or live in the same neighborhoods as average people. The only time they come into contact with real people is at the DMV."

I guess if you don't live the lifestyle, there is always data. This first-ever look at the commuting patterns of marketing and agency personnel gives the industry an opportunity to understand reactions, as well as compare their commuting habits to the average U.S. workers.

Some 86% of U.S. pre-COVID commuters commute to work. Advertiser Perceptions found that 63% of marketers and agency executives commute.

The data shows that:

  • The percentage of pre-COVID commuters working outside the home steadily increased from 48% in April 2020 to the high of 86% in March 2022, according to Nielsen.
  • Advertiser Perceptions reports that 37% of marketers and media agencies are working from home, compared to only 14% of average Americans who commuted before the pandemic, according to Nielsen. 
  • Advertiser Perceptions finds marketing and agency commuters average three days a week in the office. Smaller brands and agencies see higher rates of employees commuting to the office 00 about 3.54 days on average among firms with 1-999 employees, compared with 2.88 days on average for larger organizations with 1,000+ employees.
  • Among marketing and agency personnel who work from home, one in three do not plan to return to the office full-time. For those who are partially commuting, 25% do not plan to return to the office full-time.
  • Advertiser Perceptions data reveals that 41% of marketing and agency personnel have resumed in-person media vendor meetings, and 33% are already attending in-person conferences and events.
  • Perception vs. reality: Marketers and agency personnel underestimate how many Americans are working outside the home. They estimate 72% of employed Americans are commuting, while the Nielsen findings demonstrate that number is higher at 86% and believe 28% of Americans are working from home -- when only 14% of pre-COVID commuters are still working from home.


Next story loading loading..