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Remember the information superhighway? According to Wikipedia, this was a term used to refer to the Internet until the early 1990s. On Jan. 11, 1994, there was a Superhighway Summit at UCLA which started a national dialogue about the information superhighway and its implications. We should have known that this “superhighway” would eventually be used for a lot more than the exchange of information when you consider the people in attendance: Barry Diller, Robert Iger, Michael Eisner, John Malone, Rupert Murdoch and, of course, Al Gore were all there.

As the media execs at this meeting must have predicted, the Internet has emerged as an entertainment medium in the new millennium.

A recent Harris Interactive study conducted for blinkx, the world's largest video search engine, found that as many as 78% of US adults go online while they are watching TV. With wireless connections in the home, it's easier than ever to bring your laptop into the TV room for multi-tasking.

Twenty-five percent of these multi-taskers are online for information that is specific to the programming they are watching, and one in four of these people are actually researching products or services advertised in the programming. This is a classic example of the emerging synergy between TV and online. The sales loop can be closed immediately instead of depending on fuzzy product recall when the viewer makes their way to the store later in the week to make a purchase. Not to mention how valuable that impulse buy can be, as we have learned with interactive home shopping networks. Advertisers would be wise to take into account the multi-taskers out there by directing them to websites “right now” in their commercials.

Dan McKillen is president & CEO of the HealthDay news service

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