Issue: TiVo inks Upfront Deal with Interpublic Media
Commentary by: David
AdAge reports this week that TiVo has signed a deal with Interpublic Media, essentially giving Interpublic’s clients preferred rates and access to TiVo advertising and data in return for an upfront spend commitment.
This is a big deal for TiVo, but also a big deal for an industry that keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop. In this case it’s a good shoe and TiVo may turn out to be the savior of the advertising industry instead of the execution it has been portayed to be.
Why? The conventional rap on TiVo is that it is really just ad-skipping technology. A way for consumers to watch what they want when they want without all those pesky commercials. In reality, consumers who want to avoid commercials have had lots of ways to do so for some time and while three-quarters of TiVo users do skip commercials nearly that many skip commercials in real time with channel surfing, refrigerator runs and the Internet.
But we’re not really defending DVRs. They are an inevitable development in an industry where power is increasingly shifting to the consumer. TiVo is important because it is a company of marketers who are actually thinking that there might be advantages to be had from DVR technology for the advertiser as well as the consumer.
If the war between old-fashioned television watching and DVR usage seems likely to be won by the DVR then advertisers had better hope that TiVo wins the war with generic DVR boxes in the war within DVR-land. Why? Because Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cablevision and other cable and satellite companies are just not set up to do anything useful with the technology that they are putting into consumer’s homes. They treat DVRs as an extension of the cable box – a piece of equipment.
TiVo sees the DVR as something more – a window into the mind of its consumer. By knowing what each consumer watches, it can set up mass customization to deliver relevant messages to consumers who may be interested in them. This works in a few ways. Currently, marketers can submit advertising content for a specific audience (viewers of American Idol, for instance) and have those people who choose to do so watch a commercial, enter a sweepstakes, etc. In addition, they can flag a physical commercial with a TiVo button to allow a consumer to request more information.
In the future, TiVo should be able to go a step further and customize the in-show advertisements to the specific owner of the box. As any TiVo user can attest, you have to watch those commercials at high speed to forward through them (there is actually a way to get around this, but few subscribers do it). When you see something interesting, you tend to stop and watch it. The trick is to make the advertising interesting which is easier to do when you can target the spot much more narrowly.
So this upfront deal is a good sign that some advertisers are wising up and looking to the future with and without TiVo – and recognizing that they’ll be much better off if TiVo succeeds.