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A Wake-Up Call From TiVo’s CEO

At NATPE, Tom Rogers Will Urge Adaptation to the Era of DVRs, Commercial Skipping

When TiVo CEO Tom Rogers gives his Newsmaker Address on Wednesday at the 2009 National Association of Television Program Executives conference, he’ll be hoping it serves as an urgent call to arms for the television industry to avoid the Internet pitfalls that are currently swallowing the print and music industries.

Mr. Rogers, whose speech is entitled “Avoiding the Demise of TV Advertising,” said he intends to stress the immediacy of action that’s needed within the advertising community as time-shifting becomes the standard in viewers’ homes, fueled by the popularity of TiVo and other digital video recorders that enable viewers to fast-forward through commercials.

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“The world of advertising is changing forever,” he said. “It’s changing so rapidly that a crisis is fast approaching the advertising world and urgent action is required.”

Advertising has become more difficult to customize for viewers, he said, noting that DVRs have opened up new opportunities for advertisers that they’ll need to mine in order to become successful.

“When the writing is on the wall and the change is here and users are doing something different, there’s really not a choice in the matter as to whether you get your hands around it,” he said. “You either get overrun by those trends, or you embrace them really quickly.”

Mr. Rogers said TiVo is taking steps to help rectify some of the problems its technology has posed for advertisers by offering them different positioning for ads, including pop-ups at the delete screen of a recorded program or in the user interface itself.

Another alternative advertisers have considered is product placement within shows, an option Mr. Rogers said isn’t as effective with consumers as standard advertising.

“You’ve got to have actionability right off the remote at that time the product appears in a program to make a successful means to deal with traditional commercial avoidance,” he said.

Click to Buy

Mr. Rogers cited as an example the ability to buy a book from Amazon.com while watching an interview with its author on “Oprah,” all without interrupting the viewing.

But even with the possibility of an advertising crisis, Mr. Rogers said, a new golden age of television could be approaching as linear programming falls by the wayside in favor of on-demand, broadband-on-television viewing.

“How much energy is devoted to what you really need to learn is the question now,” Mr. Rogers said.

Mr. Rogers said the confluence of an expanded programming slate through broadband opportunities and the lack of an efficient and concrete advertising model is going to set the pace for the next decade in television, and programmers need to get on board or be left behind.

“It’s not enough to acknowledge that you are aware of this or in some way involved. You have to commit to urgent action on learning so this can customized for you,” he said. “So if it’s two years or three years from now, you’re ahead of this curve ready to benefit from it as opposed to being bitten by it.”

Comments (1)

I am getting very tired and weary of ads as a business model. Whether or not those ads are "relevance/behavior" targeted.

Why can't I just get what I pay for, with some service that I want? Nothing more, nothing less. Just a fair exchange of marketplace value, via a transparent, open trade?

It's like with Tivo.. I paid real money for the hardware. And then I paid real money for the subscription, on top of that. So I am doing that fair trade exchange.

Then, all of a sudden, Tivo starts showing me ads. First they show an ad at the bottom of the main screen. Then, I've noticed, that they show ads when I pause a program, mid-stream.

WTF is up with that? I paid real money for a service, so that I didn't have to see ads. And now they've changed the terms of that service, so that they can make even more money for themselves, by showing me more ads.

As a customer, it is very off-putting, and not the direction that I want to see things go.

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