"Shh! You can look it up on the Web during the commercial!"
Time spent at television Websites increases during prime time, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.
In fact, 40% of total time spent at NBC.com in February 2007 was spent during prime time, making it the top site ranked by Nielsen's prime-time index.
It is not surprising that TV watchers hit the Web during prime-time. eMarketer estimates, based on BIGResearch data, that over 100 million US Internet users watch TV while on the Web.
What is intriguing is that TV and Internet usage just keep going up. US consumers have been spending more time watching TV for the last seven years, according to Veronis Suhler Stevenson. Time spent online has increased at the same time.
It would seem like consumption of one media type would start cutting into the other at some point. Instead, a rise in multitasking has meant that time spent with both types of media keeps going up.
Moreover, TV shows are incorporating Web use into broadcast programming.
For example, TV watchers are going online to vote for reality show contestants, using the two media together for a kind of low-tech interactive television.
A growing number of TV shows are also being made available on TV sites after broadcast, winning viewers even when they are not watching television.
So what happens to ads in this environment? eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson says the meaning of multiple media consumption is clear.
"Multitasking requires the need for consumer-centric advertising measurement. Only by paying attention to the consumer and how they interact with media can advertisers understand whether an ad was consumed, and how effective it was."
Find out what the crossover of TV and the Internet means for branding. Read eMarketer's Multitasking Consumers: Distracted or Connected? report.