Tags: advertising

Gizmo Lovers

TiVo’s Tara Maitra Talks Advertising, And Suddenlink’s Thomas McMillin Talks TiVo

TiVo Logo Tara Maitra, TiVo’s senior vice president and general manager for content and media sales, talked to Consumer Electronics Daily (CED) about advertising during the recent Digital Hollywood event in NYC. She said that TiVo needs to approach 10 million subscribers before advertising becomes a “meaningful” business for TiVo. By way of comparison, as of December 31st TiVo had 2.2 million subscribers, an increase of 200,000 from the previous year. These subscribers don’t have to be ‘TiVo owned’, as TiVo handles advertising sales for several MSOs who use their platform, such as Charter Communications, RCN, Suddenlink, and Grande Communications. And as their deal with Comcast involves support of retail units, those subscribers will be TiVo-owned, and so TiVo will naturally be handling advertising on those units.

Note that TiVo’s major MSO partners in Europe, Virgin Media and ONO, handle their own advertising sales and thus will not count toward that ten million subscriber target. Nor does it include the “TiVo Design” Insignia Connected TV’s sold by Best Buy, at least not at this time. Maitra did point out, however, that TiVo’s recent deal to bring their platform to Pace hardware does include an advertising component. So that deal may open up new MSO markets for TiVo.

In the meantime TiVo does still sell advertising, of course. It seems it must be somewhat successful for customers as Maitra stated that over 50% of TiVo’s ad buyers are repeat customers. TiVo users are probably familiar with these ads. They may be seen on the screen that pops up at the end of a recording, at the bottom of a program group in the Now Playing List, or on the main ‘TiVo Central’ menu screen. TiVo also has had other ad options, such as static ‘billboard’ ads that overlay a commercial for the same product if the commercial is being fast forwarded. TiVo seems to have a working formula for advertisers, now they just need to bring the numbers up to create a more attractive market.

“We used to hear all kinds of things from advertisers and agencies about pricing,” Maitra said. “I feel that we have gotten it all right except that they just want more homes. Now we have at least satisfied the trajectory and growth requirements. We have priced the advertising for the number of homes that TiVo is in and it’s working, but none wanted to invest in something that they didn’t have confidence would be a growth platform.”

CED also spoke with Thomas McMillin, Chief Operating Office for Suddenlink, one of the MSOs currently distributing TiVo DVRs directly to their customers. McMillin had some good news, and some bad news. First, the good news; Suddenlink serves 1.37 million homes and TiVo is available to customers in 70% of their markets, and it should be in 90% of their markets by year end. But he bad news is they currently have only 20,000 TiVo units deployed, in 10,000 homes. Yes, clearly some homes have multiple units.

Suddenlink is taking a “conversative” approach to marketing TiVo to their customers, positioning it as a premium upgrade from their standard HD DVR. Suddenlink charges a $15 monthly fee for TiVo and requires that customers have broadband with a minimum speed of 10Mbps. All told they have HD DVRs, TiVo included, in 47.7% of their customers’ homes. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math that means 653,490 homes with HD DVRs, 643,490 of which are not TiVo households.

The main reason for the soft sell on TiVo seems to be their existing stock of non-TiVo HD DVRs. They don’t want to be “stuck with” them if they were to more aggressively push TiVo. That does leave a ray of sunshine though. Hardware has a finite usable life, and that stock of non-TiVo HD DVRs will eventually be exhausted and begin to wear out and need replacing. If TiVo can position themselves as that replacement they’d have a slow but steady market by attrition.

Via Consumer Electronics Daily.

Mirrored from Gizmo Lovers Blog.

Gizmo Lovers

DVR Viewing Improves Ratings – But Does It Matter?

TiVo Logo A couple of week’s back The New York Times published a story entitled “DVRs and Streaming Prompt a Shift in the Top-Rated TV Shows“. The basic premise of the article is that when you count DVR time-shifted viewing in shows ratings you may get different results than the single night ratings. And networks are now selling shows based on the ‘C3′ ratings, which count the three days following the original broadcast.

No other show on television comes close to that comedy in adding 18- to 49-year-old viewers who record shows and watch them later. So far this season, new episodes of “Modern Family” have grown from a first-day average of 7.1 million viewers in that age group to 10.2 million, counting seven days’ worth of added viewing — a gain of 3.1 million each week, according to Nielsen Research.

Total popularity does not perfectly correlate with profitability, however, since the networks all agree to sell ad time based on a metric called “C3.” It measures the average viewing of the commercials within a show within three days of the first broadcast, so it excludes people who wait to watch Wednesday’s “Modern Family” until Sunday or Monday.

And the networks are pushing to start selling ads based on a seven day window, which would improve ratings – and therefore pricing – even more.

But in a Letter to the Editor published on Tuesday, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers says “Not so fast”:

Because TiVo can measure viewership for any commercial, not just programs, we know that the majority of the commercials on “Modern Family” are not viewed when watched in recorded mode. Advertisers are being overcharged by paying commercial rates based on the program ratings and not commercial ratings. This is anything but the boon for advertiser-supported network television that the article suggests.

He’s clearly making a bit of a stealth pitch for TiVo’s Stop||Watch ratings service, which provides the kind of ratings granularity that tell advertisers if their ads are being watched or skipped. But he has a solid point nonetheless. It doesn’t matter if someone watches the program if they’re skipping the ads, not when it comes to selling ad time.

The only thing we know for sure is that the television market is changing, and I don’t think anyone has figured out the new magic formula yet. Content needs to be paid for somehow or it doesn’t get made. That’s been through advertising for many years, but is that sustainable? Just like the new reality for films includes licensing to cable networks, streaming services, home video, etc., I think TV content will need to rely increasingly on secondary revenue sources and not the initial broadcast.

Mirrored from Gizmo Lovers Blog.

Gizmo Lovers

AT&T AdWorks To Share Data With TiVo

TiVo Logo Fresh on the heels of their legal settlement with AT&T it seems there aren’t any hard feelings, as TiVo and AT&T have entered into an agreement to share viewing data between TiVo and AT&T AdWorks. The agreement will allow TiVo to combine aggregate and anonymous household viewing data from TiVo and AT&T U-Verse customers.

This data supports TiVo’s targeted advertising products. As DVR usage, including ad-skipping, expands, content providers must find a new way to monetize the content. And they need to know which approaches are working, which ads are getting viewed, to optimize their efforts. Like it or not, the content needs to get paid for somehow. And TiVo seeks to address that need with their advanced advertising platforms. The broader the data pool, the more accurate they can be.

Mirrored from Gizmo Lovers Blog.

Gizmo Lovers

TiVo Ending Affiliate Program

TiVo Logo For a number of years now, TiVo has had an affiliate program for sites, such as this one, to earn commissions on sales referrals. The site runs TiVo ads or users their affiliate links, and TiVo pays a bounty on any sales that result. Pretty simple and very common.

This site was a TiVo Affiliate in the past, but during the hiatus my Commission Junction account (TiVo’s program is run through CJ) was closed down for inactivity. As part of the re-launch I opened a new CJ account and began re-applying to affiliate programs – including TiVo’s.

After a week with my application pending I decided to ping TiVo to see what was up, and they told me that they’re not approving any new affiliate applications – because they’re closing down the entire affiliate program in three weeks. I asked for further clarification, if they were replacing it, etc., and was told “We don’t have plans to reopen the affiliate program at this time.”

TiVo will continue working with ad networks and exchanges for their online advertising needs. But this is the end of direct affiliate referrals.

Shame, first we lost the TiVo Rewards program – that was shut down way back on April 28, 2008. And the promised ‘new program’ never materialized. Now we’re losing the affiliate program as well.

Not that I think we’re entitled to anything – I covered that in my thoughts on the end of the TiVo Rewards program way back when. TiVo is under no obligation to offer referral bounties, etc. But I can’t say it isn’t nice to be able to get a cut from recommending a product I use and enjoy. And, while I wouldn’t recommend a product I didn’t feel I could get behind, for any amount of money (I regularly receive offers to accept paid content for the site – I always turn them down, and I won’t become an affiliate for any product I don’t support), affiliate programs are one way small sites like this one can pay for themselves, and maybe make a little money.

Since I have a ‘day job’, I don’t run the site with a primary goal to make money, so I don’t spend a lot of time optimizing the SEO, tweaking my ad settings, looking for the highest returning ad programs, etc. But there are costs to running a site and it is nice to cover those, and anything extra is a bonus to use for little things – like helping to pay for my upcoming wedding and honeymoon. :-) However, other bloggers do make their primary income from their blogs, and affiliate programs are often a key part of that. So I’m sorry to see TiVo dropping out. Ad space is finite (if you’re smart), so you have to run with what pays. And, in three weeks, TiVo no longer will be.

Mirrored from Gizmo Lovers Blog.

Gizmo Lovers

TiVo Stop||Watch Delves Deeper Into Superbowl Results

Following up on their initial Superbowl ad results TiVo used Stop||Watch to look at the past success of this year's advertisers - and issued a press release with their analysis, of course. For example, Superbowl top-place advertiser GoDaddy.com had 35% of their primetime ads skipped during 2008. While perennial Superbowl advertiser Coke had 46% of their broadcast primetime spots skipped. I don't want to recreate the press release here, so check it out if you're interested in how DVRs impact advertising.
Gizmo Lovers

TiVo Does Their Annual Superbowl Ad Summary

TiVo Superbowl viewership graph

Following the Superbowl, TiVo released their usual summary of ad viewership. The graph to the right (click for larger version) uses TiVo Stop||Watch data to track viewership on a second-by-second basis. When viewers rewind a section and repeat it this is additive and increases the total viewership. Note that most of the spikes during the first half came during advertisements, while in the second half most of the spikes came during the game itself.

TiVo, of course, put out a full press release with all of the details. Former top ad the E-Trade talking baby was dethroned, not even placing in the top ten this year, while GoDaddy.com jumped to the top spot for the first time.

The top ten rated commercials of this year’s game were:

1. GoDaddy.com: "Enhanced?”
2. Bud Light: "Summer to Winter"
3. Careerbuilder.com: "It May Be Time"
4. Doritos: "Crystal Ball"
5. Transformers: "Revenge of the Fallen"
6. Monster.com: "Moose Head"
7. Bud Light: "Man Thrown out the Window"
8. Pepsi: "MacGruber/Pepsuber"
9. Dennys: "Thugs"
10. Coke Zero: "Mr Polamalu”

See the full release for more.

Research panel invite?

I have an email from mschlocker@tivo.com inviting me to be part of the TiVo Research Panel. I don't remember if I signed up for that at one point, but it's entirely possible. I actually rather like being on panels, 'cause how else are people going to know what I think? (And obviously learn how right I am.) ;) But I want to make sure this is legit and not some sort of scam to get my log-in or something. (Playing World of Warcraft has made me paranoid.)

I followed a few of the links, up until it hit the place where I'd enter a username and password. The URLs were mostly panel.tivo.com and www3.tivo.com. Anybody else have this? Any reason to be worried?

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Gizmo Lovers

The Huffington Post On "The TiVo Imperative"

The Huffington Post is running a column by Jack Myers entitled The TiVo Imperative: Educate and Entice Viewers to "Want to Watch" Commercials and New TV Series. It is about the erosion of ad viewing as DVR use increases, and the urgent need for TV executives and marketers to address this looming crisis through new and creative marketing efforts. And the focus is, unsurprisingly, on TiVo, including a strong push to use TiVo's unique advertising offerings:
In this context, I am urging marketers and TV executives to adopt The TiVo Imperative. For marketers, commit a small percentage of your TV advertising budgets, and for TV programmers, commit a small percentage of your promotional budgets with TiVo to engage DVR-users and educate them to want to click their remote to watch advertising and to test-view new TV series. The multiple options and research capabilities that have been developed and implemented by TiVo make it the most viable option available for marketers and networks to begin addressing the imminent crisis facing the industry.
And for TiVo owners there was an interesting piece quoting TiVo CEO Tom Rogers:
Rogers believes "there are many ways to catch the viewer's eye to entice them to click into an ad. There are many ways to engage the fast forwarding viewer: with tags, with full screen billboards, with entry off the user interface, with insertions when a viewer is asked if he wants to delete a show when he is finished watching… any of which can lead to incredibly effective advertising. There are many more forms of inventory to come, including making product placement immediately actionable right off the remote control."
I'm especially interested in that last sentence: There are many more forms of inventory to come, including making product placement immediately actionable right off the remote control. That sounds like what I've been saying TiVo should do for a long time, most recently when they announced the 'Product Purchase' feature with Amazon. I think it should be something the user can enable and disable at will, but I think it would be interesting to be able to get more information on products that appear in a program and purchase them if wanted. The example usually cited is to be able to buy outfits worn by the characters - but I'm a typical geek. I own several nigh-identical pair of black Timberland hiking boots, several pair of nigh-identical black denim pants, and an assortment of T-shits and polo shirts. A GQ model I'm not.

Personally I'd be more interested in the music I hear in shows. I love music, and I often hear songs in shows and ads and wish it was easier to track down the artist and check out more. Even when shows include the "Music in this episode by" tag at the end I admit I rarely manage to jot down the info and then track it down later. But I'm a sucker for impulse buying, they'd definitely get me with a link to iTunes or maybe the Amazon music store to download. (Cd's are just an inefficient transport mechanism to get the music into iTunes for me.)

If you're interested in this kind of thing, read the entire article.
Gizmo Lovers

TiVo Examines Series Premier Timeshifting

One of the things I missed covering during the week when I was swamped was a press release from TiVo about timeshifting and the series premiers in October. Using data from their Stop||Watch service they made some interesting discoveries. For example, while it had been expected that more people would watch premiers live, in actuality they experienced up to 54% timeshifting. And cable saw a year-over-year increase in viewership.

Six of the seven new network series that premiered in October drew 50% or more of their audience on a timeshifted basis. The highest rated premier, ABC's Life on Mars, had 52% timeshifted viewing. NBC's My Own Worst Enemy had 54%, CBS's Eleventh Hour and NBC's Kath & Kim both 51%, and CBS's The Ex List and CW's Stylista both had 50%. And the news isn't good for advertisers, as five of the seven premiers had 60% of more of their ads fast-forwarded or skipped, Life On Mars had a 65% skip rate, showing that ratings alone may not be the best measure of ad viewing. Though My Own Worst Enemy and Kath & Kim had the highest skip rates with 67% - not good for NBC.
Todd Juenger, Vice President & General Manager, TiVo Audience Research & Measurement, said, "We would expect to see this level of Timeshifting for an older show with an established fan base, and a new series premier to get most of its viewing Live. The fact that these new series got upwards of 50% of their viewing on a Timeshifted basis indicates that viewers are growing accustomed to recording programs and watching when they want - thereby increasing a program's total viewership. However, Timeshifting audiences also have the ability to skip commercials, which impacts the efficacy of the ads and the economics of the program, and can have long term effects on how networks evaluate their success going forward."
There is a lot more data and analysis in the press release, check it out.
Gizmo Lovers

TiVo Finds A New Place To Stick Ads - The Pause Screen

Remember the link to Swivel Search that showed up on the pause screen with the new 9.3.2 update for the Series2 recently? Yeah, that was the ground work for TiVo's real intention - ads. Interestingly the new 11.0 release for HD units lacks this new feature, though I fully expect it to show up in 11.1 or the like. I suspect it was developed in parallel and it was too late to roll it into 11.0 without delaying the release, and they needed it out there for Netflix.

I'm sure this move, putting ads on the pause screen, will upset some users. I mean, there are always those who dislike all forms of advertising, so any ads upset that group. But beyond the hardcore ad haters, I think a number of more moderate users are getting a little annoyed by 'ad creep' as advertising finds its way into more and more areas of the TiVo interface.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. I understand TiVo needing to boost revenue, and I'm in favor of TiVo becoming profitable and sticking around. I also understand advertisers looking for new ways to reach DVR users who are increasingly skipping commercials - myself included. At the same time I'm a bit concerned about TiVo diluting their famed UI with ads, but for now I have some faith that they're not going to tart things up like a lot of cable boxes which look like a bad MySpace page. (I was going to go with GeoCities, but most of my readers probably don't remember them.)

I don't really use pause very much, so I doubt this will impact me personally (and not at all right now as I mainly use my S3), but when I due pause a program it is generally to get a better look at something on the screen. So as long as I can clear the overlay this probably won't bother me. Of course, the rest of the time I pause it is so I can leave the room, so I don't care what's on screen anyway. I actually mind this implementation less than some of the existing advertising.

The ads inserted into groups in the Now Playing List still grate on me. I don't see them a lot since I don't tend to let recordings build up to create a folder in the first place, but there is something about the NPL that is my area, while the rest of the UI isn't as personal. It is emotional and not logical, but whenever I go into a folder and see an ad lurking at the bottom I just kind of roll my eyes and make a point of not clicking on it.

I don't think anything is going to stop the addition of ads to the TiVo interface, it is too important to TiVo's business and survival. So I'm not going to rail against it too hard, I pick my battles and I don't see this as a winnable one. And I still feel that TiVo is leaps and bounds better than other DVRs, so I don't believe there is a viable alternative. I'd sooner live with these ads than use another DVR, and I'm sure TiVo knows that as well. Still, at times I wonder if I may be a boiling frog.

What do you think about this new ad addition?

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