Monday, April 16, 2007

A TiVo innovation I'd love to see

I was meeting with Ad Age editor Jonah Bloom last week, and threw out a suggestion that didn’t cause him to burst out into fits of laughter. Which tells me that either it’s not a bad idea, or he’s really polite. I prefer to think it’s the former.

I’ve been a TiVo subscriber for over six years. I cant imagine life without TiVo – my children actually get annoyed when they can’t pull up “their” television when we’re in a hotel. One byproduct, however, is that the only time I see ads anymore are during sporting events when I’m watching live. (Even that’s in jeopardy though – the number of slasher flicks and other “adult” ads that are completely inappropriate for my 5 and 7 year-olds have me watching more and more sporting events on a TiVo-delay so I can skip ahead through the commercials.) So unless someone sends me a pointer to a particularly good ad on YouTube, I’m almost certainly not going to see an ad.

Here’s where TiVo comes in. They’ve connected TiVo to the Internet. It’s a podcast client, among other things. They’ve also done some integrated ads with brands like Lexus, some of the broadcast networks, and others. (When you are watching a show you’ve recorded with the TiVo, periodically you’ll see pop-up cues that let you request more info, or watch an extended version of the commercial.) I think those efforts miss the mark. What I think would be a great feature would be a dedicated part of TiVo’s menu (under “Now playing”?) that’s just ads. TiVo has a recommendation engine – let me rate the ads. I’d like to see ads others have rated highly – and given the amount of demographic data TiVo has about me and my viewing habits, odds are good they could do a pretty good job matching the ads to my tastes. Not only would this be an entertaining time waster while playing with my TiVo, the market research would be invaluable for TiVo.

The combination of demographics, trends, and usage history would be data that could be aggregated and sold to ad agencies, who would positively drool over this. It changes the ad mechanism from one which is purely interrupt-driven (and in an age of DVRs, less and less likely to succeed) to one which is far more consistent with how people seek out content today.

Face it: there are lots of good ads out there. TiVo today makes it less likely that I’ll see them. The Coke Zero ads (by Crispin Porter) are perfect examples:

[youtube mrJ9hrAAeIU]
(Click here if you’re not seeing the video.)

If you don’t know the story behind the Coke Zero ads, here’s some background. Good stuff.

What do you think? If you have a TiVo, would this YouTube-like integration work? Would it add value to TiVo?

(On a related note: thanks to those of you who’ve listed me as your referral source when registering your TiVos. Amazingly, 11 of you have done so so far. Thanks!)


  1. [...] 16 April 2007 “What I think would be a great feature would be a dedicated part of TiVo's menu (under &#821... - Garrick Van [...]

  2. Ditto for the Apple TV (which I'm using at home now). It already pulls down movie trailers and TV show previews from the net. I would definitely spend at least a few minutes a week in the "Ads" menu on my Apple TV.

  3. Sure.

    Much of the annoyance of ads is that they intrude on our time. But they've become an art form in their own right, and excellent advertisements, or just neat ads, can be seen over and over, such as the Honda Rube Goldberg commercial.

    We sat through some of the commercials during the Superbowl this year, but they were dull and boring, and lent themselves to frequent beer breaks.