Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
TiVo reverses course; will no longer skip advertisers

By late 2005, TiVo plans to roll out a system that enables viewers to purchase products and participate in surveys using their remote controls. Photo courtesy 2004 TiVo.
When TiVo debuted in 1999, it changed the TV experience by wresting control of screen time from advertisers, allowing viewers to record shows and skip commercials.

Behind the scenes, though, TiVo was courting advertisers, selling inroads to a universe most customers saw as commercial-free. The result is a new business strategy, developed with more than 30 of the nation’s largest advertisers, that in key ways circumvents the very technology that made TiVo famous.

By March, reports the Los Angeles Times, TiVo viewers will see billboards, or small logos, popping up over TV commercials as they fast-forward through them, offering contest entries, giveaways or links to other ads. If viewers opt-in to the ad, their contact information will be downloaded to that advertiser — exclusively and by permission only — so even more direct marketing can take place.

By late 2005, TiVo plans to roll out “couch commerce,” a system that enables viewers to purchase products and participate in surveys using their remote controls, the Times said.

Perhaps even more significant is TiVo’s new role in market research. As viewers watch, TiVo records their collective habits — second by second — and sells that information to advertisers and networks.

For advertisers it’s an extraordinary boon, a quicker and more effective way than they’ve ever had of measuring the effects of their TV commercials. For viewers, TiVo’s new strategy means the technology famously christened “God’s machine” by FCC Chairman Michael Powell is rapidly becoming a marketer’s best friend.

For more information, visit www.tivo.com.

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