SUNNYVALE, California: Brands in the US should consider the "closer tying" of their TV and web advertising as simultaneous media use continues to increase in popularity.

A study by Yahoo, the search giant, and Nielsen, the research firm, said marketers can "capitalise on this growing audience by targeting their online buys during traditional TV prime time."

Up to 50% of householders in America use both of these channels every day, and the time they spend "multi-tasking", or moving from screen to screen, has risen by nearly 20% in the last year.

Not only has behaviour changed significantly in the recent past, but this trend shows no sign of abating in the future, the "American Media Multi-Tasker Study" suggested.

Three-quarters of the adults polled by Nielsen watched television while surfing the net, and 54% agreed that the latter of these mediums now commands more of their time than the former.

When consumers participate in this activity, the content they access on the internet is usually unrelated to the TV programmes or commercials they are viewing.

However, the overall focus on the web is generally lower during scripted dramas and comedies, as well as when game and talk shows are on air.

Multi-taskers tend to log on to three main destinations – Google, Yahoo and Facebook – when engaged in concurrent media use.

As such, it was argued that "a healthy online advertising mix is the safest bet for advertisers looking to leverage simultaneous consumption."

Women are also more likely to divide their attention between television and PC than their male counterparts.

"If your target audience is women, increasing your investment online could be one the smartest advertising moves you can make," the Yahoo/Nielsen research said.

When it comes to age, 18–34 year olds are far more enthusiastic multi-taskers (84%) than 35–49 year olds (78%) and the over-50s (66%).

"This finding isn't too surprising to anyone who has watched a 20-something text, hold a conversation and maybe even drive at the same time," the report concluded.

"What is surprising is the high percentage of older age groups that also move fluidly between TV and the internet. Advertisers need to keep this in mind when leveraging demographic targeting online."

Data sourced from Yahoo; additional content by Warc staff