Listening Habits Shift As People Shelter At Home

Possibly one of the only bright spots in the current pandemic is that—for non-essential workers at least—most of the world has said “see ya!” to soul-sucking commutes. With people out of their cars and into their homes, media consumption has changed both how we’re listening and what we’re listening to. That’s good news for some digital audio brands, bad news for others. AdAge has an in-depth look. Here’s the highlight reel.

Baby, You Can’t Drive Your Car

2016 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau found that 77% of the American workforce drove alone to their jobs. That’s a lot of listeners who were tuning in to radio, audiobooks, and podcasts—not counting all the subway straphangers and that one weird guy who always sings loudly to himself on the bus. But while automobile audio has evaporated, Lee Brown, VP and global head of advertising sales at Spotify, says there’s “an increase across devices like desktop, gaming consoles, TV, and smart speakers.” Alexa, tell the office I’m … stuck in traffic?

And since no one is arriving at the office, no one is there to turn on Easy Listening Sunny Lite Today’s Hits 101. AccuRadio, which offers almost a thousand music stations in dozens of genres, admits to a decrease and has launched CoronaVirusWatch, an all-COVID, all-the-time website to keep listeners up to date with the latest news, advice, and entertainment. (When asked about their ratings, Pandora, iHeart, and Spotify are maintaining radio silence.)

Science and Cooking Content Surge, Ads for Sports and Casinos Crater

It’s not just listening devices that are affected by the virus. Tech, business, and sports content have seen a sharp decline, while cooking, kids’ music, and news programs are on the uptick. (So. Much. Baby. Shark.) And these content shifts influence advertising. Brick-and-mortar businesses, auto dealerships and sports are basically off the air. Alexis van de Wyer, CEO at Pandora-owned AdsWizz, the largest programmatic audio exchange in the market, sees the slowdown. “We are either seeing canceling budgets or postponing campaigns.”

Creative Gets Creative

Even brands that are advertising are quickly fine-tuning their messages to be in tune with the times. Tone deaf’s a turn-off, and businesses are now touting drive-up, delivery services and feel-good fare like “we’re all in this together” instead of “SHOW ME THE MONEY” sales pitches.

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