Online Marketers Rejoice: Online Audience Growing, TV Audience Shrinking

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While reading Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason I was struck by his emphasis on television as the best medium for engaging an audience and getting your message out in a fast and efficient manner. Struck by his statistics on how television is seemingly more important than online advertising I decided to do some research.
The argument he made was that the average person (a lot of this is specific to the average American) spends more time watching television than online, browsing the web. And even out of the users browsing the web, a majority of these users have their television on at the same time as they are doing their browsing. In absolute terms it makes sense that more hours are spent watching television than on the web, simply because almost 99% of the homes in America have at least one television set and a majority of them have more than one.
However, before we can make more sense out of the data we have to make an exception. Compared to the 99% penetration of televisions, internet penetration is around 69.5% with regular usage at 67.9%. While television advertising might be the right medium for most brick and mortar corporations, when it comes to web-based services we have to look at a relative ratio of hours spent on each media in homes that have both wired computers as well as television sets.
When you look at this data you find that internet-enabled homes spend on average 2 fewer hours watching television than those without the internet and in fact this number is growing as the internet market penetration increases and more people seek media online as can be seen in the following chart:
Furthermore, from the teenage audience, according to a study by the Business Software Alliance and Harris Interactive, 41% of teens consider their home computer as the most important device they use whereas only 8% pointed to the television:
What we are seeing, especially in the younger age group, is a healthy migration towards online media compared to televised media which is excellent news for online marketers looking for a younger and growing audience.

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  • Gino Cosme

    Hey Muhammad, What’s obvious here is that more and more people – I say both young and old – are turning to online and mobile for both their news and entertainment fixes. This is important information for those who control the marketing and media budgets of big companies. But it goes beyond which is better. To me, it’s about integrated approaches to the media rollout, where users are targeted in both their on- and offline environments.

  • Rubab

    same happened to the print media while electronic media came up… habbits of people have changed, give little detail over print vs electronic media…

  • Amrit Hallan – Content Blog

    I totally agree. People, given a preference, and if they are aware of that preference, spend more time online rather than watching silly television programs. Take for instance news: it is revoltingly biased. On the Internet, even if you get biased news, you get counter views too.
    People spend more time online because the online media is interactive. Conventional media is not interactive — it just dumps things on you.

  • jarango

    Thanks for this info. One note: the pie chart seems to have Central and South America inverted… South America has a much larger internet population than Central America.

  • Kent schnepp

    Great information. I agree, more people are turning to the internet for their entertainment/news/media fix.

  • Harlem

    I agree, nothing on is good enough to hold my attention long enough to keep it on. Except for “24”.

  • Web Design Dave

    Ethical online marketing is used to give people the info they want when they want it. Television ads give you the information you can care less about when you least want to hear it. In that sense, TV ads are worse than email spam because they interfere more with the task at hand and they are even harder to avoid.