May 8, 2006 12:25 PM PDT

TiVo launches on-demand commercial content

Even as consumers are finding new ways to avoid watching commercials, TiVo is hoping to steer viewers toward on-demand advertiser content.

TiVo Product Watch, launched Monday, offers content ranging in length from 1 minute to sixty minutes. The offerings include infomercials, how-to videos on operating products, cooking segments and short movies with product placement.

"TiVo Product Watch provides a unique opportunity to engage consumers who are actively seeking out information about our client's products and services," Jason Maltby, the president of MindShare, a media services agency that works with advertisers, said in a statement released by TiVo.

Photos: TiVo?s ad hook

The ad style varies widely, depending on the advertiser, according to TiVo.

Kraft Foods, for example, is offering how-to cooking segments that include its products, while Ford offers a series of Penn and Teller skits that feature a Ford vehicle in the background. Sony Pictures is offering movie trailers.

General Motors and Lending Tree are also participating in the program.

Subscribers can search for content by category or subscribe to brand-based content. Users can also create searches based on their interests, as they currently do for television programs.

Maltby sees the new TiVo feature as a tool to help advertisers understand how consumers who "demonstrate a high propensity for commercial avoidance" react when presented with an opt-in option.

This latest technology is just one of many the media world is testing to combat viewers? tendency to skip commercials--a practice made relatively easy by DVRs. Tivo has offered features in the past that allowed consumers to get more information from advertisers, whether through special programming or via commercials.

According to TiVo, which originally announced development of the program last year, it has signed on more than 70 advertisers for over 100 brands. Advertising revenue for TiVo Product Watch comes from a set-up fee for the content and from fees based on the number of downloads.

TiVo did not disclose details of specific advertising deals.

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6 comments

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This TiVo will self-destruct in 5 seconds.
Thinking like this is exactly why I dumped my TiVo a few years ago.
It's clear they've learned nothing after years of complaints about
forcing advertisements onto hardware owned by consumers-- not
by TiVo. As if the $12.99 a month I paid for "listings" service wasn't
enough. It's rare and sad to see what was once a great product be
driven face-first into the ground, because some idiot execs refuse
to understand their own business and, more importantly, their
customers.
Posted by Scenario (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh please.
I guess you missed the part where it said this was "opt-in"? You're not forced to watch the ads even if you opt-in, so who cares? I can't imagine any customers complaining about this, unless they really just don't have a clue.

Skipping all commercials is very handy, but you also miss out on the ones that you might actually be interested in. At least now you can choose which ads you want to watch, based on your preferences. Their slogan isn't "TiVo, TV your way" for nothing!
Posted by Take the Red Pill (46 comments )
Link Flag
about time
Listen, it's counter-intuitive, but this has been a long time coming. A significant number of people watch the Superbowl as much for the commercials as the game, talk around the office includes not only last night's Lost episode, but "have you seen that commercial where..." and budgets for ads have been growing steadily.
People have been using technology to skip commercials for years and using technology to FORCE consumers to view commercials (Philips TV chip, Tivo policy changes, etc.) will only backfire. So why not play on the natural interest people have in commercials, highlight the things that attract people and create a win-win situation. No, I'm still not watching the in-your-face local carpet sale ad, but there are plenty that can enjoy their 15 minutes in the same way consumer generated clips on YouTube enjoy enormous popularity. Make it interesting, downplay the blatant hard sales pitch and people WILL watch.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
Reply Link Flag
TIVO ads
I would watch more commercials if I could at least choose the subject of the ads to be shown. For example, forget "diet aides" but I would watch different commercials on "anti-acids", etc.
Posted by dolynn (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And My Series 1 Will Never See A Minute Of Them ...
because this requires a Series 2 (or the latest/greatest - Series 3? - that just started shipping to existing customers) box. Darn the luck!

I know the engineers who worked on this "feature" and they weren't all that happy about it, either (they're users, too, after all), but if it brings in much-needed additional revenue that keeps them employed, so be it. The good news is that, like most things TiVo that could have a bitter taste, it's strictly opt-in. Personally, I would watch the equivalent of The Porsche Channel all day and night, listening to Patrick Stewart intoning about the benefits of a twin-turbo 480 hp engine, dynamic stabilization suspension, and, while watching video of Porsches screaming along winding coastline roads, demonstrating what it's like to, as the poster for the 996 Turbo says, "Kill Bugs Faster." (of course, Patrick is set for life, driving-wise, since he gets one of every new model that Porsche makes when it's introduced, courtesy of his very able agent's negotiating skills, at least for as long as he does commercials for them). "Warp Nine, Numbah One, and kick it, Dawg."

I would at least like to let the advertisers know that they're wasting money showing me feminine hygiene product ads - no matter how many times they play them, I'm not gonna buy any (unless my overexposure to such ads and shows for women subliminally causes me to get a sex-change operation - don't go there, girlfriend! ;) The problem is that the demographic profiles they're collecting are way too broad, and in their zeal to get the lowest possible CPM (cost per mil - a thousand views), advertisers tend to over-buy a region in order to try to reach every potential customer (while, at the same time, casting a net that bugs the crap out of a majority of fish they're just gonna toss back, anyway). You would think by now that the WWW sites associated with given shows would have collected as much detailed non-attributable (i.e., privacy-aware) demographic data from their fans as possible, to include the kinds of products and services they really want.

Another feature that is going to come along from TiVo, sooner or later (and they've had the technology in the boxes to do this for years) is commercial substitution. The only thing holding it up is the lawyers - for the advertisers and manufacturers for the original ads, the networks, the cable and satellite distributors, and the government (in its regulatory role, particularly over terrestrial broadcast and cable). No one has really begun to negotiate in earnest how the money would get divvied up among all the players, and of course, everyone wants to own all of the marbles, so Y10K may come along before they get to first base in this discussion.

The best things in life are free, but things that are paid for by advertising have to be closer to the top of The List of Things in Life than the bottom.

All the Best,
Joe Blow
Posted by Joe Blow (175 comments )
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