Two reports out today illustrate how the traditional media industry is working hard to prop up their declining business. First, as evidence of the decline, IBM released a study that says that the Internet is about to overtake TV as the principal medium in most households (via MediaPost):

TIME SPENT ON THE INTERNET is set to surpass time spent watching TV in the average American household, according to the results of an IBM survey released Wednesday.

Overall, 19% of respondents said they spend six or more hours a day on the Internet, versus 9% for TV. More telling, 60% reported that they spend one to four hours using the Internet, versus 66% who spend the time watching TV.

Of course, the time spent on the Internet includes growing consumption of online video, according to the global survey of about 2,000 respondents (including 885 Americans) conducted in April-June of this year. Globally, 67% of consumers say they watch video on the Internet, or would like to do so.

TV is dead. Long live TV.

As for the propping up part, Kantar Media Research and Pointlogic released a report based on what is arguably one of the most suspect types of consumer research — asking consumers how ads effect them, a category of questions most people couldn’t answer honestly if they tried (via MediaPost again):

NEW AND EMERGING DIGITAL MEDIA platforms may be the rage on Madison Avenue and in the news media, but some highly regarded consumer research suggests they still have a long way to go before they replace traditional media as effective advertising alternatives with most consumers. The conclusion, which comes from the 2007 release of Compose, a collaboration of WPP Group’s Kantar Media Research unit and Netherlands-based Pointlogic, is one of an array of new research studies being used by big media shops to evaluate the efficacy of using a wide range of communications platforms to reach consumers. Of the 33 channels – ranging from traditional outlets like TV, radio and print to new media and marketing channels like sampling, promotions and direct marketing – the study found that the vast majority of consumers still find mainstream media to have the greatest influence.

The “conclusion,” of course — we have to prop up the declining business:

“The conclusion is that the traditional media should still be the cornerstone for brand advertising and that the new media still have a long way to go before they can replace the traditional media.”

The unspoken subtext — Madison Avenue still hasn’t figured out the how to make buying new media as profitable as as buying traditional media, so they are going to continue to push traditional media on their clients, come hell or high water.

But sooner or later big corporate advertisers are going to wake up and wonder why they are only allocating single or low double digit percentages of their ad budgets to a medium that commands more than half of most people’s media time.

And then Madison Avenue is REALLY going to have to tap dance.