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Perception vs Reality —Kym Frank on travel mobility around the country

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Perception vs. Reality | The Focus Group of One


Geopath President, Kym Frank, discusses the difference between the perception and reality of travel mobility around the country. 


Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, many of us have heard the opinions of a “focus group of one.” In fact, only a few weeks ago, I responded to a “traffic skeptic” who claimed that the Geopath mobility data (and consequently all of the other data sets that mirror it) are “grossly misleading.” This skeptic stated, “As far as Atlanta goes, we can see first hand that commuter traffic is less than half of pre-covid levels.

There is perception and there is reality – the two are very rarely the same.



Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media/Westwood One (an audio network of 8,000 affiliated broadcast radio stations) and upcoming guest on “Speaking Frankly” shared some slides that he and his team curated this week. Advertising Perceptions conducted a study of 304 marketers and agencies this October, asking them how many Americans they think are currently commuting to work, versus how many are working from home. These buyers felt that 43% of Americans are working from home every day. The truth is, less than half that, with only 19% working from home daily.



In fact, data from the Federal Reserve show that the percentage of the population returning to work is steadily increasing month after month.



The Geopath mobility reports continue to show very stable average miles traveled daily, with only a half of a mile difference between October and February.



Moreover, the average impressions delivered across all of the roadside formats that Geopath measures are actually exceeding expectations by 4%.


While perception is a powerful – and necessary – survival tool that allows us to rationalize the outside world based on our own individual experiences. It is often limiting as it does not take into account the true reality of the what is actually happening the way big data can.  Author, Geoffrey Moore said, “Without big data, you are blind and deaf and in the middle of a freeway.” And we know from Geopath’s big data, that is not a very safe place to be right now.

For more thought-leadership pieces from the Geopath Team, please visit the Geopath Blog.


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