Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen.

By Cheryl Pearson-McNeil

NNPA Columnist

There are multiple options when it comes to how consumers like to watch their favorite programs or other video content. In corner number one we have TV. Believe it or not, TV is still the reigning champ for advertisers who want to reach audiences, with the ability to attract viewers across multiple demographics. The average U.S. consumer watches more than 156 hours of TV a month. As African-Americans, we watch an average of more than 190 hours a month on TV, more than any other group.

In corner number two, we have social media, which continues to pick up steam, proving to be a powerful contender with multi-platform advertising, and I am specifically referencing Facebook. Did you know that Facebook has more than 1 billion members around the globe?  That’s almost one-seventh of the world’s population.   And, because we love our social media, Blacks are more likely to visit social networking sites such as Facebook than other demographic groups. Chances are, you’re a member of the Facebook family.  By the way, how many Facebook friends do you have?

With more than 212 million computer internet users in the U.S. and a smartphone penetration of 62 percent (69 percent in our community), Nielsen measures consumer behavior with two, innovative services: Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings and Nielsen Cross-Platform Ratings.  This information keeps marketers informed and gives them even greater insight into crafting cross-platform campaigns to reach consumers.   Insights from a Nielsen TV/Internet/Mobile Data Fusion panel show that Facebook is leading in online reach, especially among younger consumers.

In a new Nielsen study commissioned by Facebook, the social networking site’s reach was measured against four TV networks.  During the weekday daytime hours, Facebook achieves a higher reach than the TV networks for every age group for people younger than 55, while during primetime hours, each of the four TV networks achieves a higher reach than Facebook in each age group except for people ages 18-24.

This budding school year is in full-swing, and tech-savvy students tote their smartphones, tablets (a new requirement in some schools) and laptops around with them. Other Nielsen insights show that even though students use their devices for research (51 percent), reading books (42 percent) taking notes (40 percent) and completing class assignments, (30 percent), the latest data shows that connected device-owning kids in school 13 and older, spend about 25 percent of their time social networking (not just on Facebook).

On Facebook specifically, kids ages 12-17 are checking in during the day at 19 percent and that’s the least amount of time spent among younger demographic groups.  Young adults between the ages of 25-34 top the FB daytime chart at 55 percent, followed by the 35-44-year-old group at 52 percent and 18-24-year-olds at 50 percent.  Facebook reaches 47 percent of the 45-54 daytime crowd and 42 percent of those 55-64.  And, don’t discount our most senior consumers because they are on Facebook too, with a 30 percent daytime reach among the 65 and over demo.

Primetime is a different story.  Not surprisingly, during primetime, the study shows TV capturing the most reach with more consumers than Facebook (except among 18-24 year olds).  But, remember, many of us have become pros at multi-tasking – checking our phones, tablets and computers while watching our favorite programs.  This leads to overlap.  And, this duplicate reach gives marketers a golden opportunity to develop effective, integrated plans to reach their audiences both online and on TV.  For instance, Nielsen’s Facebook study showed that during primetime, the site contributed a 36 percent duplicated reach among consumers in the 25-34 age group.

So you see that even though there are multiple viewing outlets, each have their own special features that consumer enjoy – all reasons why marketers should understand the cross-platform approach to get the maximum success from their advertising campaigns. If you are not active on social media, however, I encourage you to get active. It can definitely help you keep up with these speed-of-light pace journeys new technologies take us on daily.  And while you are at it, click the like button on the Nielsen Community page on Facebook. Learning something new is part of what keeps us vibrant, right?

Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to

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Freddie Allen is the National News Editor for the NNPA News Wire and 200-plus Black newspapers. 20 million readers. You should follow Freddie on Twitter and Instagram @freddieallenjr.