- April 11, 2008

Online is the New Primetime

Marv Pollack

The Advertising Research Foundation’s 54th Annual Meeting and Convention just concluded in New York City. This was a watershed event, with over 700 paid attendees sharing presentations over three days. The organization is made up of advertisers, their agencies and media planning partners, the media, and market research companies. At the meeting, companies demonstrated their latest, most innovative media offerings, creative product, use of media and sharing their research tools and studies advancing the measurement of ad creative, media, advertising effectiveness, and custom

I call it a watershed event because so much of the focus of the event was on digital advertising and social communication on the web. A year ago, digital media much less on everyone’s tongues. Comscore, as a platinum sponsor of the event, presented a special session called “Online is the New Primetime,” documenting the immense size of the online audience and its development as an advertising medium. Despite the fact that consumers spend at least 17% of their media time online, online advertising only accounts for 7% of advertising spending. We shared work we have done with our clients to demonstrate the results they are getting from online display and search advertising—some uniformly impressive results.

We posed the question that given the huge audience and proven effectiveness of online marketing efforts, “Why are some advertisers so slow to adopt online ads?” We turned to a panel of advertising experts from Yahoo!, Google, MSN, P&G, CBS Interactive, and Mediaedge:cia to discuss the reasons. Those comments will be the subject of future blogposts. Here I would like to share some of the most interesting data on the audience size and invite you to a replay of the webcast that was broadcast on April 16. 

Television is still the pervasive medium and the bedrock of most major brand advertising plans. Network television generates large reach numbers (not as large as a few years ago, but the most of any medium per exposure) and high engagement. However, the Internet has risen to be the second or third highest cumulative reach medium, depending on the source of the numbers.

One striking finding presented in our session was that during most waking hours, more people (age 15+) are using the Internet than are watching television. It is only for the last two hours of primetime and into late night, when most people seem to wind down their Internet usage, that TV consistently surpasses Internet usage. We presented the following chart which shows the hour-by-hour comparison of Internet and television usage.

Sources: National People Meter Sample, Comscore

Another analysis that was part of the presentation was one prepared by our CEO, Magid Abraham that quantifies the impact of the Internet as an advertising medium compared to television. Based on our tracking of online ads compared to an estimate of the number of ads run on television and average TV ratings, it appears that the Internet delivers forty percent more gross rating points than TV in the course of a month and 120 percent more impressions. It was surprising, even to us, the heavier advertising delivery of the Internet versus TV.

Source: Comscore estimates

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