The trendline we see is undeniable, even after we checked it several times to make sure there is  nothing awry: Social media looks like it’s about to overtake TV advertising in what consumers say is most influential on many of their consumption decisions.

The question posed to consumers is a simple one: Which of these do you believe has the most influence on what you buy, where you eat, or the movies or TV shows you watch?

Three answer options are given: TV advertising, Internet advertising, and Comments or recommendations I see on social media. (We’ll refer to the latter as “social media chatter.”)

Over the past 12 months, with no change to our data collection methodology or the makeup of our aggregate respondents, TV advertising dropped 12 percentage points while social media chatter rose by 10 percentage points. Even Internet ads edged up a bit, by 2%.

What's most influencing consumer purchase decisions in 2014?

What really surprises us is how relatively quickly this data changed, over only one year’s time. These 60,099 U.S. adult respondents are  giving us a clear signal that there could be a shift of tectonic portions about to take place. Advertisers, pay attention!

In a full Insight Report released late yesterday, we deliver in-depth analysis by segmenting respondents by the three answer options (as “influenced personas”)  to learn who they are more likely to be. As you can imagine, those influenced by the two Internet-based answer choices skewed younger, but we went much further to mine more details about them. There are even clear differences in who is more likely to pick Internet ads over social media chatter.

View the full Insight Report here on what’s influencing consumer decisions the most, free of charge — which includes our analysis of this stunning trendline.

Image by Yoel Ben-Avraham (Flickr)