Advertisers Follow Viewers to the Web

Friday the Washington Post reports earned $4.83 in advertising per online viewer for the recently completed NCAA basketball tournament, compared to $4.12 for each television viewer during the tournament. This  revelation should calm broadcasters who have struggled with putting their most valuable television properties online, either live or in close proximity to debuting on the tube (for sitcoms), in fear of cannibalizing the viewership without receiving equal value.

By no means has digital usurped traditional media in the revenue department, the extra 71 cents per viewer not compensating for 132 million to 4.8 million advantage television owned in viewership. It signals the start of a trend. Networks and advertisers finally are starting to get it – digital media has a market, a potentially valuable one at that.

Time-shifting technology has rendered television advertising less valuable in the past few years. More viewers prefer to use a DVR to fast-forward through commercials, than watch an event live. Online advertising is one option to guarantee your message reaches the viewer. Many video applications, Hulu and Joost for example, build commercials into the shows that viewers can’t skip, a particularly valuable tool for advertisers that grab the promotional spot before the show starts.

Television suffers from “one and done” syndrome. Once a commercial airs, its over with, you reached who your going to reach for that spot. Digital thrives in on-demand video and archived video. So an advertisement lives beyond the moment, each time a user calls up that video they see the ad. It may not reach as many viewers on aggregate, but has a longer lasting effect.

Advertising online also has more reach than television. The Internet has no boundaries. Users could send links to friends in other parts of the country, younger and older, even overseas. International exposure is an interesting concept to watch for broadcasters and advertisers alike – a new, expanded market previously unreachable.

Networks need to lead the way, advertisers will follow. Consumers are out there waiting for you.

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