In Depth

Starcom Eyes New TiVo Data

As the digital video recorder becomes a more important force affecting television programming and advertising, understanding how consumers use the gadget is becoming a bigger priority for media companies and media buyers.

A new piece of research into DVR behavior comes from media agency Starcom USA, which has a special relationship with TiVo’s PowerWatch ratings services. Starcom christened PowerWatch and was the first to subscribe to the service, which links demographic data from 20,000 households with second-by-second viewing information.

Starcom and TiVo polled those households to find out more about what’s on their minds when watching TV.

In the survey, only 10% of viewers said the ability to zip through commercials was the reason they have a TiVo. But more than nine of 10 viewers say they always or almost always fast-forward commercials.

Among the viewers who watch some commercials, 26% say the main reason for watching a spot is simply “because I want to.” Another 20% say they watch spots because they’re multitasking.

About a third of viewers in the panel said they are compelled to watch a commercial when it is “relevant to them.” A smaller group, 12%, said they watch ads because they are entertaining.

Starcom found a glimmer of hope for commercials in the fact that 61% of viewers said they were more likely to watch commercials if they were relevant. That makes efforts to develop addressable advertising potentially worthwhile.

One thing is certain: TiVo and other DVRs are not going away. Two-thirds of consumers said they “could not live without” their TiVos and more than nine of 10 respondents said they had a strong relationship with the gadget.

Of course, what viewers say they do and their actual behavior often are two different things. PowerWatch will measure these viewers’ actual DVR usage.

“Once we have linked these responses to the second-by-second TV viewing data, we will be able to determine how attitudes and behaviors impact how people watch TV and, more importantly, what affects their commercial-viewing behaviors,” said Tracey Scheppach, Starcom senior VP and video innovations director.

As TiVo’s PowerWatch powers up, Starcom will be able to continue to ask panelists questions, including some about their use of specific clients’ products, which should help guide the agency’s television strategies.

“With our early look into granular ratings data and the motivations affecting TiVo viewer behavior, we will be able to cater to and more effectively captivate consumers,” said Ms. Scheppach. “Through deeper, expanded collaboration with providers of some of the most precise and consumer-focused data available, we continue to provide our clients with a very competitive, first-mover edge during a time where efficiency and engagement are increasingly important.”