DVR Data’s Hot

Dec 5, 2007  •  Post A Comment

In a television world reshaped by the rapid growth of digital video recorder use, knowledge about playback and commercial skipping is power.
That’s benefiting TiVo, the company that started the DVR rush. Although the company has struggled as most consumers opt for the convenience of getting their DVRs from their satellite providers and cable operators rather than buying a TiVo box at a retail store and paying a monthly service charge, TiVo has begun to build a business in providing data about DVR-user behavior.
While it is unlikely to be a replacement for Nielsen Media Research, whose new commercial ratings are being used as the basis for ad sales this season, TiVo and other providers can offer more granular information about what viewers are doing on a second-by-second basis.
Nielsen’s system works on a minute-by-minute level.
Just last week, TiVo announced separate deals to provide viewing data to NBC Universal and ad buyer Carat.
NBC Universal is the first big network group to make a deal with TiVo. In addition to getting viewer information from TiVo’s StopWatch second-by-second commercial ratings services, NBC Universal’s 14 broadcast and cable networks will be able to sell interactive advertising that reaches viewers with TiVo equipment.
“We’ve made a commitment to our advertisers to offer them better proof of performance and to help ensure their marketing messages resonate in today’s media environment,” said Mike Pilot, president of NBC Universal sales and marketing. “With proliferating media options and changing consumer behavior, our clients are asking for new ideas, better metrics and more accountability,” he said. “This partnership allows us to provide clients with products and solutions to help them analyze, understand and adapt to the new ways consumers are watching television.”
Carat signed up for both TiVo’s StopWatch service and its newer PowerWatch service.
The TiVo StopWatch data is based on viewing data from 20,000 TiVo households that voluntarily opted to participate in the research. PowerWatch, also based on a sample of 20,000 TiVo users, provides additional demographic information and allows clients to ask brand-specific questions of the TiVo panel households.
“TiVo data adds a critical element to understanding what is really going on in DVR homes,” said Sarah Fay, CEO of Carat. “TiVo’s StopWatch and PowerWatch services bring the accountability and measurability associated with the Internet to the largest form of media: television. With such a granular level of viewer behavioral research at our fingertips, we can gauge the effectiveness of clients’ marketing campaigns with a high level of detail and accuracy.”
Other agencies and media service companies have been signing up for the TiVo ratings, including Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Interpublic Group of Cos., Media Performance Monitor America and Media IQ.
The first agency to buy TiVo’s StopWatch data was Starcom USA in January. Starcom also helped TiVo develop PowerWatch, which was launched last month.
Starcom is also the only agency to get audience measurement information from TNS Media Research based on 300,000 Charter Communications digital cable subscribers in the Los Angeles area. That type of set-top data moves research from projecting viewership based on a sample to a virtual census of user behavior.
Top Starcom executives are among those in the media-buying industry who believe that relying on Nielsen’s system of average commercial ratings is at best a stop-gap for figuring out how many viewers are paying attention to their clients’ commercials.
“With all the data available, it should have been a bigger step,” said John Muszynski, chief executive of Starcom, at an Ad Club panel last month. He said that by using TNS and TiVo data, the agency found things not available from Nielsen, including a top 10 network in L.A. that’s not even measured by Nielsen.
Tracey Scheppach, senior VP and video innovation director at Starcom, is surprised it’s taking other agencies so long to seek out data from TiVo and TNS.
“It makes me think people are looking at what we’ve already known,” she said.
As the only one looking at the TNS data, the agency has a dilemma as to whether to keep what it has learned to itself, or to publicize it in order to get others to sign up so that TNS can afford to continue to process the data and sign up more cable operators.
“This is just too good to keep to ourselves,” she said.

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