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Reaching the Remaining Network TV Viewer

Broadband users are spending 48 percent -- approximately one hour and 40 minutes -- of their spare time online in a typical weekday and the trend is increasing across all age groups, according to research firm Media-Screen.

Additionally, their report finds that when users are online, 54 percent of that time is spent accessing activities related to entertainment and communication -- which is hardly surprising news to anyone informed about the recent trends. A confirmation that mass-media has lost its appeal, and micro-media is further gaining in appeal, is perhaps the most noteworthy point.

Media-Screen examined how and where broadband users access entertainment content and information online -- e.g. learn about new artists, buy related products, read reviews, use a program guide -- and finds that media habits of today's consumers have shifted in the wake of iTunes, YouTube, MySpace -- and all the other less popular, but equally valued, small independent entertainment-related sites.

"Users' ability to pull information and content associated with their favorite genre, artist or title changes the marketing game from gross ratings points to access and advocacy," says Josh Crandall, managing director of Media-Screen. "Many broadband consumers go online for entertainment, and to talk about entertainment with other fans. Marketers need to leverage that interest and focus on catalyzing a conversation now, instead of just talking to their fans via traditional advertising channels."

Media-Screen's report shows how online entertainment consumption is dramatically affecting conventional marketing and advertising channels and what this means for those in the industry. For instance, search engines and social networking sites are gaining in popularity, influencing an equal number of people as magazines and newspapers.

Furthermore, 48 percent of younger users say they learn about new entertainment through user generation content sites -- e.g. community, review or video sharing sites, and blogs -- by contrast, only 25 percent say they learn about new entertainment through traditional television.

"Currently, the proportion of advertising resources devoted to the Internet (about seven percent according to ZenithOptimedia) is nominal relative to the value it generates in interest and engagement among fans," continues Crandall. "We have found that consumers, on a typical weekday, spend more than 40 percent of their time consuming media online. As more of the population goes online and there are more marketing channels, it will be imperative for the marketers to know how to effectively allocate marketing and advertising dollars."

As media fragmentation gains even more momentum in the marketplace, I believe that it will be very insightful to profile the remaining consumers who primarily align themselves with mass-media television content. My guess is that once this data becomes more readily available, we'll see more marketers migrate from this increasingly less desirable consumer segment.

Most marketers will likely want to follow the consumers with the most disposable income. Clearly, they're less likely to be watching network TV; or perhaps cable programming that resembles network TV. Therefore, it makes me wonder what nework TV advertising will look like two years from now. Also, which marketers will target the remaining viewers, and what products or services will they feature in these ads?

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