Snooki Proves TV Is More Relevant Than Ever

Remember: We're the Consumers, and We'll Watch Just About Anything

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Tom Denari
Tom Denari
Everybody just needs to calm down.

Sure, the internet has provided an abundance of marketing tools, from social media platforms to game layering to good ol' fashioned email. We have so many media delivery options right now, it's challenging to calibrate how much to use any of them.

Because many marketers are curious about these platforms and don't want to be left behind, they're susceptible to the digital-media specialists who are preaching that the 30-second TV spot is dead, or at least old news.

I'll step up on my own soapbox right now to say that TV isn't going anywhere. Be wary of giving up the most powerful medium that we have today -- and will likely have for some time to come.

Fact is, I have proof -- and her name is Snooki. Believe it or not, she's our proof that ad-supported TV will never die. (I'll come back to this in a minute.)

Despite the technological advancements like DVRs or the multiple screens to distract us -- desktops, laptops, phones and now tablets -- we're actually watching more TV than ever, not less.

That's right, we're watching more. The latest Nielsen data reports that "traditional" TV viewing in the fourth quarter of 2010 was actually slightly higher (0.2%) than in the same time frame in 2009.

How can that possibly be? Doesn't a DVR allow us to be more discriminating TV viewers? Doesn't it allow us to time shift and skip advertising? Instead of just settling for something on one of the two hundred channels we can choose from, aren't we able to simply select one of the quality shows we've recorded?

These all seem like great theories, but the facts get in the way. Nielsen's latest research reports that Americans, on average, watch about five hours of TV a day. And of those five hours, only 21 minutes are spent watching DVR playback -- meaning roughly 93% of all TV watched is live.

We're obviously not being all that discriminating.

We'll watch almost anything, as long as it's on TV. In fact, compared to any other country, Americans like to watch TV the most. While the U.S. continually ships jobs and its competitive advantages overseas, we remain the leader in at least one thing: watching TV.

But, why? Why do we like TV so darn much?

First, humans yearn for community and shared experiences, which is also why social media has become such a powerful force. Like it or not, as our culture grows and becomes more diverse, TV continues to be the means to provide shared experiences for Americans. Many people watch TV simply because they know others are watching. Whether it's March Madness, "American Idol" or even "The Bachelor," we don't want to be the clueless one, not in touch with what everyone else is talking about.

Second, watching TV is the one thing in our lives that's easy. People are more stressed out than ever, constantly navigating through the incessant tugs and pulls of responsibilities -- children, friends and co-workers. TV provides an escape from reality, without any commitment. Think about how many times you've been flipping channels and stumbled onto that favorite movie you already own on DVD. You can't stop watching, even though you didn't intend to. Why? Because pulling out a DVD or even firing up the DVR feels like you're actually making a commitment to spend the time watching a show. Live TV doesn't.

But most of all, TV is significant. It has such high esteem that our culture has come to conclude that if something is on TV, it must be pretty noteworthy. In fact, even though we have hundreds of channels to choose from now, TV isn't nearly as democratic as the internet, where anyone with a modem and a computer can create their own website, post a video, blog or tweet.

On the other hand, very few people get to be on TV. To Americans, being on TV means that either: a) you're someone important, or b) someone important thinks you should be on TV. Being on TV is something to strive for. It's the reason that people dress up, make signs and act ridiculous just to be on TV for a few seconds with Al Roker.

This is where Snooki comes in. Millions follow her life now, proving that we'll watch anyone, simply because she's on TV. That kind of power isn't going away anytime soon. The cultural significance of TV is what gives anyone (or anything) on it some level of credibility, and more often, celebrity. Without realizing it, we believe that if it's on TV, it must be legit. TV has the power to create and strengthen almost anything.

Even Snooki.

Tom Denari is president, Young & Laramore, Indianapolis, Ind.
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