November 28, 2006 10:38 AM PST

Now playing on TiVo: Targeted ads

Given the choice, would you watch commercials?

TiVo, maker of the popular digital video recorder (DVR), announced a new "program placement" feature on Tuesday that offers customers the option to watch a product commercial or a promotion for another show after viewing a recorded program.

Each time TiVo customers view a recorded program, the new menu options will appear alongside the delete or save options. Those new options will include a brand logo or question asking if the viewer would like to watch promotional content, which can run up to two minutes.

The feature is opt-in, so that customers can watch products they are interested in and skip the rest.

For advertisers, TiVo is offering to target their ads to a specific show or genre. It will also record the view and response rate metrics associated with the spot. The Weather Channel, for example, is offering a spot for a new show called Abrams & Bettes. TiVo can measure how many people view the promo, and how many set their TiVo to record the show after viewing the promo.

But will TiVo owners watch any of these commercials? The whole culture of TiVo is based on avoiding commercials, said Todd Chanko, a JupiterResearch analyst who recently completed a report on the television market.

"Is this what people signed on for? Is this what people bought into when they subscribed to TiVo? No, they wanted this weird device that comes up with programs you might like, tapes shows and helps skip commercials," he said.

"What is the incentive for a viewer bent on fast-forwarding past those commercials, to then take the time to watch a Burger King ad through which he or she has ostensibly fast-forwarded past while watching the show? I don't understand the psychology behind it," Chanko added. "There is a conflict between their primary source of revenue--subscribers--and advertisers who want subscribers to ignore, or somehow choose to no longer engage in, the behavior TiVo has been promoting since its inception."

Even if all the TiVo owners decided to start watching the program placement commercials, that's not going to make a large difference overall for television advertising, Chanko also pointed out.

Local broadcast and cable TV networks would still be left struggling to get advertisers because of the commercial-skipping phenomenon, and advertisers would still be looking for ways to get a larger audience.

As of fall 2006, 13 percent of TV households in the U.S. owned DVRs, according to Chanko's JupiterResearch report. Of those, only 2 percent owned standalone DVRs, including TiVo. The remaining 11 percent of DVR households had boxes provided by cable, satellite or telecommunications services.

"It might be interesting for advertisers, but by and large, I don't know how it helps the ad-supported broadcast or cable networks. From TiVo's perspective, it is just trying to ad additional sources of revenue. Its goal is to stay alive. Except for a few exceptions (TiVo has deals with DirectTV and Comcast) the cable companies and satellite companies are all using Motorola or Scientific-Atlanta DVRs," said Chanko, adding that TiVo has "been locked out of a huge chunk of business."

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21 comments

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tivo and ads
I disagree the the whole point of Tivo is to not watch ads....aside
from all the other Tivo benefits, there are very creative and
watchable ads out there, sometimes moe so than the
programming. I'll certainly watch a good ad. Tivo lets me skip the
annoying ads.
Posted by nikwax (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly - we skip BAD ads
I use 30-second skip on my TiVos and skip just about every ad that airs. Once in a while something will catch my eye and I'll watch it, but rarely.

However, I will watch the TiVo Central Promos for products, or product categories, that I'm interested in. I also subscribe to a number of the TiVoCast feeds, like NY Times and CNet. CNet is, effectively, a long form ad for the gadgets they review, but I enjoy watching it. (And it did influence my choice in HDTV a few months ago.)

I've also signed up for some of the categories in Product Watch.

I don't mind ads and marketing - when they're something I have interest in. What bothers me is that nearly all of the ads broadcast don't even apply to me and my life. If they delivered ads for goods and services I use, I'll watch them.
Posted by megazone (138 comments )
Link Flag
Close to the truth
I don't have TiVo, but ReplayTV before greedy TV stations sued the commercial skip feature out. I thought about buying another DVR, but when I found out how TiVo went to the dark side, I opted for the cable company's one instead.

I use my DVR to record shows AND skip ads. Quite often, I'll pause live TV, go do something else, and play the show skipping the ads. To me, my DVR is all about getting shows while I sleep or are away and skipping ads.
Posted by i_am_still_wade (250 comments )
Link Flag
I already pick ads to watch
Owning 3 TiVos, I rarely watch live TV anymore and always have the option to skip ads entirely. But I find that the ads still make their way to me, and that's not a bad thing.

I pretty much always start with the 30 second skip to buzz through ads, but sometimes one catches my eye, so I'll actually watch a couple seconds and then either continue skipping or rewind back to watch the commercial from the beginning.

Also, sometimes people will be talking about a great commercial (usually for beer, sometimes for credit cards) and I won't know it because I skipped it. Then, I'll either ask them what they were watching the last time they saw it so I can watch it on TiVo or I'll keep my eye out for it while fast-forwarding.

All advertisers need to do is make better commercials that people will talk about and I'll end up watching them, even with TiVo.
Posted by marybethcarroll (2 comments )
Link Flag
I watch TiVo ads
TiVo already sells ads that get placed on the main screen. You have the option of clicking on these to watch them.

I usually do watch them because if they paid TiVo for special placement, they're generally interesting.

The other plus with targeted commercials is that they will be applicable to me. I'm a consumer, I want to buy. And I do want to know about something that may interest me.

By the way, I have 3 TiVos, and I love them, so I'm hardly impartial. :)
Posted by jerseyrich (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your....
Impartial but also an idiot. You tell me you paid all of that money for those TV devices and the monthly fees and then watch the ads. Idiot!

R
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Link Flag
Agreed...
When advertisers put out commercials like "Head-On - Apply directly to the forehead" repeated for 30 seconds and I have the ability to NOT watch that pure stupidity, why wouldn't I?

I DON'T watch commercials often at all, but like the other comments, when something catches my eye, I will rewind to watch it.

Advertisers need to impliment new things like these TiVo directed ads as options for TiVo users because if the ads are truly directed to users and skillfully created, they will be a benefit to the companies that adapt.
Posted by Nfuego (123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I get to pay for the privilege of getting ads?
I don't own TiVo, mainly because I refuse to have to pay the monthly (or lifetime) fee. I'd gladly put up with the ads if I could buy the box (or get it for free) and skip the service fees.
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why should it be free?
I think you should read the story again...

TiVo isn't forcing you to watch the ads...they are providing a service that is mutually beneficial to advertisers (who generally don't LIKE TiVo/DVRs because they are used to skip ads) and the users of the devices.

TiVo provides a service. They do it very well.

Your logic would be comparable to getting your cell phone for free and never paying for service...
Posted by Nfuego (123 comments )
Link Flag
basic service
I'm not sure if it's an option on all Tivo units, but there is a basic Tivo service that is free. However, you do not get all the bells and whistles such as Season Pass, Online Scheduling, and Tivo-To-Go. I'd recommend one of the Toshiba Series 2 Tivo with DVD recorders. They let you use the basic service so you only pay for the box. And if you want to upgrade later you can.
Posted by markusfarkus (96 comments )
Link Flag
I don't want people who couldn't pass a more
challenging major in college than marketing tell me what I should or shouldn't be buying. Marketing (ads) is just that. I'd rather get seek out my own information and do my own research.

I hope the Media Center guys aren't this stupid and try to implement some sort of ad watching scam.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wonder if these comments are just trolls or
Can people truly not read the text in the article?

Nobody tells anyone what they should or shouldn't watch...you get AN OPTION at the end of a show to watch a product information ad. You don't even have to OPT IN to see the OPTION!

READ BEFORE YOU MAKE UNDEDUCATED POSTS!
Posted by Nfuego (123 comments )
Link Flag
What a waste of TiVo's programmers
To implement a service/feature that most TiVo owners will and
do avoid like a plague is just plain dumb. To top it off, TiVo has
been promising "TiVo to go" to it's Mac using customers for over
a year and still they haven't delivered it. I doubt they ever will as
I now see how they are wasting their programming resources.
This feature (sic) shows that TiVo's management seem to think
that their revenue stream is spewing from the advertisers
bucket. If they intend to stay in business and grow they need to
concentrate on serving their customers first and foremost. This
feature serves the advertisers but ignores the features most of
the TiVo customers want. Sadly, I predict dismal future ahead
for TiVo unless they get their priorities back in order.
Posted by nouser (191 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's in it for me?
If I'm paying to use a Tivo, the question that comes to mind is
what is in it for me? And is that worth watching a commercial?

Right now this looks like a concept doomed to failure. This is
like Cable making you pay for channels and then filling them
with hours and hours of informercials. Thanks.

Tivo is continuing to isolate its existing customers. At a certain
point, the annoyance of dealing with Tivo's attack on the
customer will drive more existing customers away.
Posted by m.meister (278 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not Really
You state: "This is like Cable making you pay for channels and then filling them with hours and hours of informercials"...

Ummmmm don't they already do that? I don't know about you, but I DO pay for cable...and at any given time there are infomercials playing on a channel...

And having a window pop up at the end of a show that ALREADY pops up NOW asking you if you want to Keep the recording or Delete it and ADDING a line ASKING you if you want to watch XYZ AD is HARDLY comparable to not offering general programming ever.

So, NOTHING Is in it for you. If you would actually READ the article, you'd see that all they are doing is ADDING an option...one line at the end of a recording...
Posted by Nfuego (123 comments )
Link Flag
No TIVO for me...
I refused tivo from the very first. I was informed they had SPYWARE installed in their units and log everything that was being watched. Then, when the programing guide was updated, they would retrive that data. This new gimic just reinforces my non-faith impression of them.

I've done just fine with the TV Card and DVR software I have installed in my PC. It gives me the same access as tivo, without the spyware, without the commercials and with the ability to permently save any program I've captured.
Posted by Lyricraider (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh YES, because NO PC has ever
Had spyware! TiVo/Spyware? You call keeping datalogs of what a group of anonymous people WATCH and selling that information spyware?

And you would actually post that you trust your pc on the internet more secure than a TiVo?

You need to just keep the same setup you have...I seriously don't think you deserve to have what a TiVo can give you...
Posted by Nfuego (123 comments )
Link Flag
TiVo Needs to be Bought
TiVo is simply looking for a way to pay for the service it offers.
They're doing better, but still in the red. Heard that a European
group is funding Cheap-TV-Spots.com (online TV ad agency) to
help them acquire media companies, including TiVo. Probably a
good move for Cheap TV Spots, since they already place ads on
national TV for $1500/mo. (Isn't that cheaper than Google
AdWords?) Then again, TiVo might be a better grab for Yahoo,
or better yet, ASK.com since they are trying to kick Google's
behind. I'd love to see what TiVo and Apple could come up with,
together, too.
Posted by beachbasedbiz (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
OH NO - It showed up last night!
Oh my goodness...I just don't know what to do! TiVo, What are you doing to me? When my show ended last night...you know...when the banner pops up and asks if you want to keep the show on one line, or delete the show on another line in a semi-transparent screen...

Oh My...You won't believe this...

There was ANOTHER line there, and it was in a sort of different SHADE of semi-transparent GREY! All you TiVo bashers...it was just sensory overload! I actually was given the option to READ ANOTHER LINE OF TEXT that probably took 4 milliseconds from my life! Damn you TiVo! Making me decide if I'd like to see an ad...guess what for...ANOTHER similar show! UUUUUUUUOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH! GASP!

What to do...what to do, I say! Do I DARE CLICK the down arrow and see if I might like that show...oh no...what to do! The bashers tell me on CNET that it is an INVASION and I shouldn't have to spend that 4 milliseconds trying to decide...and what if I do click the down arrow and hit select...well, that is at least another 3 milliseconds! And then...I get a preview of a show similar to the one I just finished watching...what if I actually like it? Then I'd be given ANOTHER option to record it...I just don't have time for this! Or do I? Heck with those TiVo bashers, I'm going to try it out.

Wow, 2 minutes of my life has past and I am ok! AND I decided to go ahead and record the next episode of the show that was GASP! Advertised by TiVo - DOUBLE GASP!
Posted by Nfuego (123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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