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No idea is simple when you need to plant it in somebody else's mind. - Dom Cobb, Inception

It's the time for parents everywhere to intercept their kids' letters to Santa and satisfy the desires of our youngest consumers. My 8-year-old had one item on his list, a bullet-voting strategy meant to give Santa no room to disappoint. That item was an iPad. "Why do you want an iPad?" I asked. "I want to watch Phineas and Ferb on it." Analyst Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray, projects 13.5 million iPads will be sold in the fourth quarter of 2011. In all over 40 million units will have found homes this year. Many of them will be put to the same use my son dreams of - watching video away from the television. Like him, whole generations are growing up without a dependency on the box for entertainment.

If it were only the 8-year-olds shifting platforms, advertisers wouldn't have to change much for years to come. But it isn't. Studies SAY has conducted into "Off The Grid" behavior with both comScore and SEA Polling/Public Opinion Strategies in the last year confirm that roughly a third of the population is shifting away from watching live television, instead time shifting or platform shifting. The majority of 18 to 45 year-olds describe something other than television as their primary source of video.

You're doing it too, aren't you? At the very least, you're time shifting through a DVR and you're skipping most of the commercials. You're watching your favorite shows (other than sports) at least 12 minutes after they start so you can watch the hour in 48 minutes by eliminating the commercials. I also bet that you work in advertising or a marketing-related business. Look at us: a bunch of marketers enjoying the benefits of outwitting marketers. We're trained not to think the rest of the population is like us, that we can't use our own experiences to develop communications for the masses because we are more urban (or at least more urbane).

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But in this respect, at least, we are just like them.

We know that this third will eventually grow to two-fifths and then three-sevenths and then a half. We don't know how long it will take, but it's coming. We've already crossed the line when a dependency on television inherently excludes a vast swath of our target audience. Can we afford not to communicate with them?

SAY has spent the last several months working with web data provider Quantcast to try to bring that third of the audience back into our reach. We leveraged our learnings over the two "Off The Grid" studies and surveyed thousands of people in our network to find markers of live television avoidance, creating a detailed profile of this audience's Web behavior. We then identified others in the network whose behavior mirrors this profile. This week we announced the availability of our proprietary Off-The-Grid targeting, which will help advertisers efficiently communicate with the segment of the audience that television just isn't reaching anymore.

That includes all those platform-shifting DVR-users, iPad owners, cord cutters, Netflix streamers, Bit Torrenters… and you. Welcome back to advertising.

Matt Rosenberg is VP of Solutions, SAY Media.

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