You Say PC, I Say TV

The relationship between TV and PC has never been more evident than in the past month. First, athletic shoe giant Nike launches an ad campaign sending viewers to whatever.nike.com to pick an ending for the TV commercials. Then the Super Bowl bombards viewers with dot com ads until sporting-event-staple Budweiser ads become a welcome sight.

Given the reported increases in Web traffic to advertisers’ sites after the Super Bowl, it looks like the relationship between PC and TV goes beyond that of your average pieces of living room furniture. According to Media Metrix, Super Bowl advertisers OurBeginning.com and MicroStrategy.com saw traffic increases of 989 percent and 5,000 percent following their Super Bowl ads. Computer.com gained 150,000 unique users after its ad ran. Doesn’t seem like much? The day before the Super Bowl, the site had zero (it launched Super Bowl Sunday). Combined, the sites of Super Bowl advertisers showed a 38.7 percent increase in unique visitors between the three-week average preceding Super Bowl weekend, and the total number of unique visitors throughout Super Bowl Sunday and Monday.

Other Super Bowl sites that had already employed large-scale TV marketing campaigns in the past, such as Monster.com and E*Trade saw little increase in their Web traffic after their ad ran, according to data compiled by Nielsen//NetRatings.

“Dot com companies who advertised on Super Bowl XXXIV had the challenge of balancing style and substance,” said Allen Weiner, VP of Analytical Services for NetRatings. “In a single 30-second spot, advertisers had to grab the viewer’s attention while conveying a clear value proposition and reason to visit their site. Those who were able to accomplish both goals will be rewarded with sustained traffic gains and themselves bookmarked for repeat usage.”

But advertisers weren’t the only ones that benefited from TV’s largest annual event. The total traffic for sports-related Web sites increased by 18 percent on Super Bowl Sunday compared to the previous Sunday, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. ABC, which covered the game on television, also used their Enhanced TV Web site during the game to provide real-time stats and information. It saw 650,000 users, according to ABC.

According to research by Gartner Group’s Dataquest, the number of US adult consumers watching TV and simultaneously surfing the Web on the PC (what Dataquest analysts call “telewebbers”) increased from 8 million in 1998 to 27 million in 1999.

“The number of telewebbers is increasing,” said Sujata Ramnarayan, e-Digital Media analyst for Dataquest. “However, they are not watching TV on the PC, but rather having the TV on as background noise while surfing the Web at the same time. The fact that the number of telewebbers is increasing attests to the potential for including TV-like functionality in the PC and Internet functionality through television and interactivity in TV programs.”

Dataquest’s survey found that 82 percent of telewebbers have the TV on as background noise at least once a week. Telewebbers also said that using the Internet while watching the news to get more information from a story was their most common use of both media, followed by getting sports information while watching a game. Other telewebbers said they use the Internet for TV listings, while others use chat rooms to talk about what they’re watching. Some said they vote in viewer polls while watching a live TV event and get general information on a product they see on TV, with a few placing an order. Overall, nearly 40 percent of telewebbers are interacting with the TV show’s related Web site at least once a week.

Cyber Dialogue’s American Internet User Survey (AIUS), which consists of interviews with 1,000 Internet users and 1,000 non-users, found that 10.2 million people surfed the Web and watched TV simultaneously during the fourth quarter of 1999. Almost one-quarter (24 percent) are doing so during sporting events. The next most popular TV programs that induce Web surfing are nighttime comedies and news magazines (13 percent each). These adults report spending an average of 7.3 hours per week watching TV while online, and they say that two-thirds of the time they spend with both media is with the television on simply in the background.

While someday evolution may lead to one device that functions as both PC and TV, consumers do not seem quite ready for one screen with two functions. According to Dataquest, only 2.1 million US adults are using their PC to watch TV.

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