TV Ads Rule Thanks to Social Media: Internet Ads Promising

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The 30 second spot is anything but dead - in fact advertisers are spending more than ever on ads on broadcast and cable TV. And TV ads are expected to grow even more this year, to 39.1 percent of all ad spending, around $60.5 billion, according to eMarketer. The other fast-growing ad area is online, which has managed to steal from newspapers, magazines and radio, though not TV. Online ad spending accounted for 16.9 percent of all major media spending and is on track to grow its share to 18.4 percent in 2011.

But TV ads will continue to rule — an unexpected twist after the economic downturn and the rise of alternatives slammed the TV ad business. And here's the key thing, the story that the numbers don't tell: TV has the Internet to thank for its good fortune.

The growth of social media is driving the popularity and benefit of TV ads. Twitter and Facebook are actually encouraging people to watch TV shows in real time, so they can be part of the online conversation. The huge spikes in tweets around huge events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars show how digital conversation is driving more people to tune in, in real time. It's harder to TiVo a show and wait to watch it later if you can't avoid hearing a story twist or the outcome of a game if you're five minutes late.

Plus, now people are consuming all types of media simultaneously. Nielsen reports that since 2009 around 60 percent of TV viewers regularly click around the Internet while watching TV. That explains how people are watching more TV than ever — they're watching TV while also connecting with their friends on social networks and reading articles online.

This is all very promising for Internet ads, and social media ads in particular. Because people are Tweeting and watching at the same time, it's all the more important for brands to connect with users on those multiple platforms. So look out for more synchronized campaigns to reach consumers in their element, which is now, everywhere all at once.

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