Edison Research Hacks the Commuter Code: AM/FM Listeners Switch 22 Times per Commute

April 7, 2016
For Immediate Release

Even as in-car audio use continues to evolve, Americans remain “button punchers.” Nearly 75% of those who consume audio in the car are likely to switch at least occasionally over the course of their commute. The average user of AM/FM radio switches the station 22 times per commute, while those using other platforms switch an average of 9.3 times per commute.

That’s just one of the findings of Edison Research’s “Hacking the Commuter Code,” a first-of-its-kind national survey of those who commute 20 minutes or more daily, alone in a car or truck.  New methodology from Edison allowed us to capture the actual, second-by-second behavior of commuters across the country.

“Hacking the Commuter Code” finds that there is a wide variance in behavior among in-car audio users, with results depending on age, the type of content being consumed (e.g., music vs. spoken-word), and access to streaming or satellite radio or integrated multi-media systems.

There are also significant differences between types of users. “Hacking the Commuter Code” identifies three discrete groups:

  • The Restless – those who constantly switch (21%)
  • The Seekers – those who switch occasionally (52%)
  • The Keepers – those who mostly stick one with choice (27%)

“Hacking the Commuter Code” looks at how in-car audio users react to hearing commercials. But it also finds that listeners switch for a variety of reasons—not just in reaction to commercial breaks, but also an ongoing quest for a better song.

“We’re very excited to be bringing new and unique information to the advertising, audio, and broadcast communities,” says Edison president Larry Rosin. “This is an entirely new research design to help answer definitively what has only been speculated about until now. We’re confident that ‘Hacking the Commuter Code’ will take its place alongside Edison’s ‘Share of Ear®’ and ‘Infinite Dial’ studies.”

Contact info@edisonresearch.com for details on subscribing to the full report.

How the study was conducted:

Edison conducted a national survey of 1,117 adults ages 18+ who are employed full or part time, commute to work at least twenty minutes in a car or truck they drive themselves, and listen to any type of audio (AM/FM radio, Streaming Internet Radio, CDs, digital audio files/MP3s, satellite radio, podcasts, etc.) during that commute. Edison recruited an additional 101 commuters nationwide and asked them to mount a GoPro camera in their cars and record their commutes. Both phases of this study were conducted in the fall of 2015.

About Edison Research:

Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Gulf News, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, Time Warner and Yahoo. Edison Research works with many of the largest American radio ownership groups, including Bonneville, Emmis, Entercom, CBS Radio and Radio One. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Edison Research is the sole provider of election exit poll data for the National Election Pool comprised of ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue.

2 replies
  1. Jeff Vidler
    Jeff Vidler says:

    Congratulations on such a smart study… a long overdue over-the-shoulder look at listener behavior where it matters most. It would be interesting to know how many of those 22 switching occasions happen when listeners run through their pre-sets to find a station that isn’t running commercials. With multiple stations all using “bow-tie” scheduling tactics to get maximum PPM credit, we have added a new layer of frustration to the in-car listening experience. If I hit my pre-sets five times to find a station that wasn’t playing commercials, would that count as five switching occasions?

    Reply
    • Edison Research
      Edison Research says:

      That’s correct, Jeff–it would be five switching occasions. We watched thousands of hours of video and coded every one!

      Reply

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