Introducing The 2021 State of Audio.

How’s the Pandemic Shifting Our Lives? Hint: We’re Connecting with What Matters Most.

By Idil Cakim, SVP, Research & Insights, Audacy

COVID-19 brought about much change to our daily lives. We became more family-oriented, leaned into our kids’ education, made room for our pastimes and discovered new ones. Through it all, Audio was on.

The 2020 American Time Use Survey (ATUS) — published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics — points to a new consumer journey, post-pandemic.

Audio’s On Fire

You turn the radio on when you first wake up. Or when you’re driving to work, dropping the kids off at school, or heading out for a morning run. We call it Personal Primetime, or Audio’s way of creating profound connections with listeners.

So, it’s no surprise this survey shows time spent listening to radio as #1 in the list of activities we increased.1

The pandemic had us turning to trusted news sources, especially when all other sources seemed so depressing. We wanted to connect with local hosts and likeminded listeners—folks in our community who get what we’re going through—because they are too.

You can see the new usage patterns from other research sources, too. Edison’s Share of Ear survey says working from home led to a larger share of Audio consumed at home.2 Household usage of podcasts was up 26% and smart speaker by a whopping 43%!3

And more of us tried Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, Google Nest, etc.—and we liked ‘em. Listeners who acquired new ways of listening during the pandemic are keeping it up! Time spent with Audacy content on smart speakers has more than doubled since March 2020.4

Source: Flowing Data, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 American Time Survey

Connecting With Our Children

We’ve shifted to spending more time at home. Which means we get more chances to hang out with our kids! We spent extra minutes playing with our young ones (+20 minutes/day). With schools moving to online or hybrid teaching, we rolled up our sleeves and pitched in. Parents added hours helping our children with homework (+10 minutes/day) and reading to them (+8 minutes/day.) And now we’re driving them to school, with the radio on. Compared to October 2020, nearly 2x the kids are going to school by car vs. bus. And in 9 out of those 10 cars, the radio is almost always on.5

Exploring Hobbies

While at home, we used the situation to pursue creative interests. Time on interior arrangement, decoration, and repairs is #3 on the list. Computer use for leisure, shows the fourth biggest uptick in time.

Completing Projects

And we took care of the homestead. Managing finances shows the fifth-biggest gain. Home security also saw an uptick, coming in at #2 on the list. Caring for our lawns, gardens, and houseplants was #9.

The pandemic period shifted our time and changed our journeys – perhaps irreversibly. And audio is now offering more touchpoints to marketers than ever before to engage consumers. Mobile app usage is up, and time spent listening to digital audio is expected to increase through 2021 and beyond.6 Podcasts are part of everyday conversations, and integral part of our commute, as well as personal time.  

But most importantly, the increases in time for the things that enrich our lives: family, hobbies, home improvement are here to stay. And audio is on in all of these moments that matter.

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SOURCES

1 Flowing Data, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 American Time Use Survey

2 Edison Research Share of Ear (2020)

3 Edison Research Share of Ear Comparison of May vs Q1 2020 via Audacy 2021 State of Audio

4 Triton Digital, March 2020-June 2021

5 Custom Nielsen study conducted March 2021 via an online survey, based on a weighted sample of 1009 among P18+

6 eMarkerter, US Time Spent with Media 2021

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