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Tivo Signs Five Brands to Ad pact

Aug 1, 2005  •  Post A Comment

TiVo has signed five more major marketers for a new program that ensures their brand messages are seen by viewers even if they fast-forward through commercials. It also creates an opportunity for direct-response marketing.

The advertisers are Ameriquest, E*Trade Financial, Nautilus, Novartis and Tylenol.

Beginning immediately, when commercials for those advertisers appear, some TiVo consumers will see a branded tag on their screen that alerts them that more information about that brand is available by pushing a button on their remote.

“DVRs are growing and people skip through commercials,” said Tom Rogers, CEO of TiVo. The new program gives marketers a way to “express those commercials in a DVR environment.”

Advertisers benefit three ways, he said. The brand comes through even in fast-forward mode, viewers have the opportunity to relate to the brand in great depth and marketers can use direct-response marketing techniques during the interactive ad experience. TiVo will be able to track how many viewers click for more information and consumers will decide whether they want to be contacted by marketers about the brands being advertised.

Because of TiVo’s technology, which pauses live TV, viewers who move to these commercial messages will be able to return to their program without missing a minute of their program.

That separates this TiVo initiative from previous attempts at interactive advertising, said Mr. Rogers: “All other forms of interactive advertising forced you to go to another channel or disrupted the viewing experience.”

The new ad tags will be seen by 1 million TiVo subscribers nationally who use the stand-alone TiVo Series 2 boxes. Subscribers who use integrated boxes provided by DirecTV, Comcast or other cable operators will begin receiving the service sometime in the future. TiVo has 3.3 million customers overall.

The advertisers are paying TiVo a fee to have their tags put up on the screen. TiVo also handles the back-end of the interaction, including the compilation of response data.

Advertisers have become increasingly concerned about viewers’ ability to use DVRs to avoid seeing commercials and have been exploring a number of strategies to make sure the messages they pay for aren’t simply being skipped over by consumers.

“E*Trade’s marketing model is based on a test-and-learn approach, which provides us with innovative ways to reach our target, value-driven consumer,” Nicholas Utton, chief marketing officer of E*Trade, said in a statement. “Our motto, to challenge the ordinary, compels us to work with a broad spectrum of partners and technologies, like TiVo and direct-response technology, to expose television viewers to our unique brand and value proposition.”

Last month, TiVo said that General Motors and The WB Television Network had signed up for TiVo’s new advertising features. GM planned to use the technology to support its OnStar, GMC, Chevrolet and Saturn brands. The WB was using TiVo tags with promotional spots for new shows.

Despite creating a device that enables consumers to skip commercials, TiVo officials have repeatedly said they are committed to developing solutions for advertisers. Shortly after becoming CEO in June, Mr. Rogers told TelevisionWeek that he sees TiVo “as a platform for dealing with, and allowing for the growth of, the advertising business.” He said advertising is “a critical element” of the company’s future and a company advantage that, because “other providers have not thought through” the advertising component, could enable TiVo to “pioneer some aspects of the advertising business.”

A recent research report by ESPN said DVR households number about 12 million are expected to reach 33.5 million by 2008. The study found that among those DVR households, commercial avoidance was not the main impetus for acquiring the device. Many viewers said they actually like commercials, and some fast-forwarders are more aware of the commercials they fast-forward through than they are of other commercials, the study said.

Jay Sherman contributed to this report.