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Television as an advertising medium is losing its edge. According to a recent McKinsey & Co. report, there are half as many viewers of primetime broadcast television as ithere were10 years ago. But despite this decline in viewership, television advertisers have actually increased their investment in the medium by almost 40% during the last decade. One wonders how long it will take before these advertisers tire of paying more money to reach fewer people.

Considering how teenagers consume media, it won't be long before television ad dollars shift to other media. Teens now spend half as much time watching television as their parents and spend 600% more time online.

Young adults (ages 18–26) already are online more than they watch television and tend to be early adopters of new technology, according to Forrester Research. People in this age group are also heavy users of electronic gadgets, and are more interested in blogs, podcasts and mobile web advertisements.

If marketing dollars follow eyeballs, the media mix over the next few years will include less broadcast television combined with more new media.

There's evidence that this is happening already. Big advertisers like J&J, Coca Cola, Proctor & Gamble and Chrysler have either decided not to participate in the network television upfront market or increased their online and wireless spending to extend the impact of their 30-second television spots.

The real challenge is to leverage what each medium does best and build a more intelligent media plan by integrating television, radio, Internet, wireless, print and even outdoor advertising.
If you're now experimenting to find out what works best, you're in good company. If you're still on the sidelines, it's time to get in the game.

Dan McKillen is president of the HealthDay news service

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