TiVo Develops TV-Ad Search to Mimic Web’s Personalization

TiVo, the personal digital recorder company whose value proposition has long included the ability to let users fast-forward through commercials, said today it was working with several advertising and media companies to make it possible for users to search for specific TV ads they actually want to see alongside their favorite programs.

The project is an effort to bring the customized, targeted nature of online advertising, which is seen by many industry watchers as a serious drain on TV advertising revenue.

To develop the service, TiVo said it would work with several advertising agencies and others, including the Interpublic Group of Companies, OMD, Starcom MediaVest Group, The Richards Group and Comcast Spotlight.

Personal Profiles

The technology would attempt to leverage the personal profiles that TiVo users create for themselves, which are in turn used to suggest programs to record. Current plans call for users to have the ability to search through ads in certain categories.

Details such as pricing and what those categories will be are still to be worked out, TiVo said, with the service expected to be live sometime in the Spring of 2006. Some suggested categories include automotive, travel, telecommunications, and consumer packaged goods.

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said the service would deliver “an even better viewing experience for subscribers” while also help advertisers rely less on mass-placement of advertising, which requires them to pay for millions of viewers to see them, even though on a fraction may be the true target audience.

More Like the Web

In fact, the program seems to blend not only the targeted nature of Web ads, but also an added element of measurability because of the data the TiVo box collects, and the permission-based approach that has given e-mail marketing staying power.

TiVo said the plan is for the ads to be “non-intrusive, relevant, interactive advertising,” with users having the ability to opt out of receiving them at any time.

“TiVo intends to capture the best of the Internet advertising model and create a unique advertising product for the television medium that will provide measurable results,” said Davina Kent, vice president of national advertising sales for TiVo.

The program will build on TiVo’s existing interactive advertising programs, including one that lets users seek out more information from inside a TV ad by pressing a single button.

Analysts say the TV-advertising search program can also be read as an indication that TiVo expects to straddle the traditional TV and Internet worlds going forward.

In recent week, the company has announced several deals that put it squarely in the convergence of TV and Web. It has partnered with Yahoo to enable users to remotely program their TiVo recorder boxes and announced a deal with the Internet Film Channel to let users download content on demand.

Best of Both Worlds?

It has also rolled out technology to make it easier for users to transfer video from their TiVo boxes to two leading portable devices — the Apple iPod and the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP).

Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox said the various efforts can be seen as part of a larger push to feed the type of relevant ads the Web has become known for to more media, including traditional TV.

In particular, Wilcox said, the Yahoo partnership could let Yahoo, with TiVo’s help, take a bigger bite out of the TV ad pie by offering ads that bridge the two venues. “There’s a number of ways that Yahoo could exploit its TiVo partnership as a way to cross the advertising gulf between online and offline,” he added.

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