Advertise, or go under
Thoughts and insights for anyone who does brand planning

by David Gutting

Nielsen’s latest “Third Screen Report,” produced by its Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement initiative, confirms what the networks have been emphasizing in recent months: Viewers aren’t unplugging from the tube.

Nielsen reported that 99% of video viewing in the U.S. during the third quarter was still done via traditional TV.

That’s not to say the revolution isn’t brewing. The study also reported that online video usage is up 35% vs. a year ago, while DVR playback has jumped 21%.

According to the report, the average consumer watched 31 hours of TV per week — 31 minutes of which they caught in playback mode on a DVR. That consumer also watched 22 minutes of online video and three minutes of mobile video and spent four hours on the Internet.

“The American consumer is spending more and more time with his/her technology, especially with the three screens of television, Internet and mobile devices,” the report said.

Adults 45-54 actually spend more time per week on the Web (nearly seven hours) than any other age group — with kids and teens on it the least. Adults 18-24 rep the only group that watches more online video than they do DVR’ed fare.


When I look at data like this, I wonder how much things have really changed.

People watch 31 hours of TV per week (31 minutes replayed on a DVR), and 22 minutes of online video.  Any advertiser who is moving television out of their mix is probably committing marketing suicide.

One of the dirty little secrets that no one wants to talk about is that viral and social campaigns frequently have a minuscule impact–though they can be relatively expensive to launch.

I don’t discount the importance of dialog that takes place in the social environment. It’s quite possible to leverage brand advocates effectively through that channel, and also to use it as an engagement tool for building brand relationships. But when 99% of viewing continues on the traditional channels, that cannot be ignored.

What remains more important is where viewership is going: away from the broadcast channels and towards more specialized programming on vertical cable networks (including premium cable).

There is one other emergent technology that I think bears watching: the movement embodied by Roku and other imitators in which it is possible to channel online content directly to your TV. Think about it:  people like watching content on their TV screens because the quality is so much better. If you give them the ability to seamlessly put anything they want on that screen, from any source, they are likely to do so.

Couch potatoes will rule for a long, long time.