BrainTrust Query: What will TiVo’s new audience ad-skipping research mean to the effort to reach consumers?

Discussion
Aug 07, 2006
Laura Davis-Taylor

By Laura Davis-Taylor, Founder and Principal, Retail Media Consulting

(www.retailmediaconsulting.com)


Last Wednesday, USA Today broke the story that TiVo is making a move to help Madison Avenue measure the damage of its ad skipping capability. Its new Audience Research and Measurement (ARM) division will offer advertisers and agencies “second-by-second data and analysis on DVR viewing of advertising content,” according to a company release. In so doing, TiVo is taking on Nielson, TV’s longstanding measurement gurus. Not only will they track what ads people skip, but they will also track exactly when they jump off.


For traditional ad agencies and marketers, this news points to a potentially scary ride. For the first time, TV commercials could be held to accountability standards currently seen only with direct and online initiatives. Although only about 15 percent of homes have Tivo, these viewers provide random sampling that can likely point to the “make or break” of a brand’s pricey broadcast efforts.


The core of the issue goes right to the of media as we know it, in essence, how to reach today’s consumer. But is this news of measured TV media surprising? It shouldn’t be, as technology is connecting channels, people and marketing ROI capability as never before. Many have seen this as a critical move, as consumers have already shown us with other media that they are overwhelmed and tired of all of the “noise.”


However, consumers have simultaneously shown us that they welcome messages that are meaningful, valuable, and/or entertaining. If this is true, Tivo’s new offering should be seen as a positive. If your target is skipping your ad, why not know about it so that you can find out why and take proactive steps?


Another angle to explore here is the current media valuation of reach and frequency. Currently, TV is the premier media vehicle to reach the most people as frequently as possible. As the disruptive technologies such as retail digital signage, mobile marketing and some of the next generation store devices appear, camps are already debating if this valuation model is the right one to gauge success.


Indeed, traditional agencies plan and buy according to this model. However, relevancy is now as important as R+F – if not more. Who cares if you reach a person numerous times with a message if it was simply screened out as communications clutter?


Discussion Questions: What will be the impact of TiVo’s new measurement capability? Should we find more highly evolved standards for valuating communications
effectiveness across all channels in today’s fragmented media world? Is reach and frequency enough?


Like it or not, media as we know it is changing. We can’t duck our heads and make it go away…consumers have found their voice and they’re using it.


Based on this, marketing and media camps need to find a way to more effectively reach the consumer – in any channel – with a message that will resonate.
Technology should not be seen as hindrance, as it’s actually a powerful enabler to do this effectively as well as understand what’s not working. The only people that should fear
this are those who were not basing strategy and creative around the target audience in the first place!


Regarding media valuation, reach and frequency is certainly critical. However, relevancy needs to be equally positioned in importance. Especially
with place-based efforts such as retail digital signage, we ignore the power of product adjacency and ability to stimulate purchase if we measure only eyeballs.

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16 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: What will TiVo’s new audience ad-skipping research mean to the effort to reach consumers?"


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Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 7 months ago

I’m a terrible predictor of the future, but it seems most logical to me that this will eventually have a big impact: my guess is that advertising overall will eventually become less entertainment-oriented and more differentiator-oriented (fewer ad messages that are purely entertaining without any differentiation information and more ad messages that are primarily differentiating and secondarily entertaining). I suspect this will be most resisted by ad agencies, who, in my view, have driven the ad-as-entertainment shift over the last 20 years. Another group of resistors will possibly be advertisers themselves, and particularly marketing directors, because so many products are NOT differentiated, and this will difficult to accept, one, and even more difficult to remedy at the company level, two.

Michael Tesler
Guest
Michael Tesler
14 years 7 months ago

Facing the truth and the facts rather than avoiding them should provoke more realistic and more appropriate tactics.

John Hyman
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

Get ready for more and more brand/product insertions into programming.

Dan Raftery
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

People have been skipping commercials since the VCR. The fact that TiVo is just now figuring out how to replicate the Nielsen Rating service methodology to capture data about this behavior is a sign of the conflicts in the consumer electronics industry – orchestrating the next phase of the revolution in personal recording technology without incurring too much ire from the regimes controlling the content. Privacy isn’t the big news here. TiVo has published snippets of this information for a while now. The big news is how this will affect TiVo’s position relative to their competition. The in-house alternatives may be able to gain some ground by eschewing similar aggregations, but in the long run TiVo could become stronger, especially if they take the next step and make it financially rewarding to viewers to join the Skippers panel.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

A few random thoughts…

–When I watch old TV shows I get from Netflix, I love the old TV ads from the ’50s. They had a point, and they offered differentiation. David Ogilvy had a real point when he said, years ago, “It’s not creative unless it sells.” Today’s agencies forgot that; the “creatives” aren’t really very creative at all.

–If the ad wasn’t “zapped,” how do they know if the “viewer” actually watched the ad, went to the bathroom, or was fighting with the kids?

–A lot of us have DVRs, letting us record shows at odd hours and then watch them later, zapping the ads as we go along. A study of my TV habits might show that I watch a lot of TV at 3 in the morning, when I’m sleeping.

–This new TiVo research will hit TV advertising pretty hard, and chase it to other media. TV advertising may have to reinvent itself; anything would be an improvement.

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
14 years 7 months ago

The positive aspects of this may be to really have messages that make sense and not continue to have just empty air that have made the traditional half hour sitcom/drama have less than 20 minutes of real programming. When the ads need to have impact to really have someone watch, we may get some real interesting ads. They other issue is, how valuable will the last ad before the show starts be, that as you fast forward, you always seem to watch so you don’t miss the show you recorded? That is going to be prime placement in the future.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
14 years 7 months ago
The new TiVo study will be helpful for understanding consumer behavior and may serve as a basis for quantifying the parameters of frequency and reach. But there is another aspect to the whole TiVo phenomena that must gain appreciation. Consumers are starting to realize just how transparent their personal activities are becoming. The internet is bad enough, with each click and url entered being tracked by a multitude of eavesdroppers. Now, whether you decide to watch a commercial or view a TV show six hours after it was aired will be reported. At some point consumers are going to say “enough.” Personally, I would not want to skip every commercial break and putting a sensor on the john in my bathroom or on the refrigerator door would be taking things too far. For advertisers, knowing a commercial was not skipped still does not determine whether it motivated a purchase. Some commercials may even be found offensive by some viewers. Retailers hold the ultimate answer for advertisers. Retailers know a consumer’s past purchases so they can… Read more »
Herb Sorensen
Guest
14 years 7 months ago
I agree that TiVo media ratings, along with a lot of other developments in process, is going to have a HUGE impact on advertising. The reality is that the advertising industry is built on a model of “Opportunity to See, ‘ OTS, ratings.’…traditional agencies plan and buy according to this model.” This means that people selling “audience” want to claim as members of that audience, anyone with even a remote possibility of seeing the message. These grossly inflated numbers are quite acceptable for commerce as long as ALL audiences are similarly inflated. But there are two problems. The first is that they are NOT all similarly inflated. For example, monitoring the on-line clickstream is obviously much more closely related to actual viewership than counting how many people buy a magazine or are in a room where a TV is running. The second problem is that if you are genuinely interested in the process of exposures-impressions-sales, on an individual audience member/shopper basis, inflated audience numbers are virtually worthless. Detailed understanding of how and whether an exposure… Read more »
Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
14 years 7 months ago

It seems to me to be a never ending vicious circle — we marketers keep looking for new ways to grab the attention of consumers, and consumers make ever more elaborate attempts to get away from us. Even old fashioned consumers who still watch live programs like me have high tech tools to avoid commercials: the mute button and a newspaper. After awhile, you instinctively know when to look up from the paper and go back to the show. Savvy moviegoers know the length of the grace period that allows them to miss the “entertaining” commercials and/or the previews. Pop-up blockers help computer users avoid online ads. Caller ID allows avoidance of “friendly reminder” calls. And on it goes. Point being: once the consumer knows how to turn off a certain type of message, you may never get a chance to convince them they’ll like it, if they’d only watch or listen.

Mike Romano
Guest
Mike Romano
14 years 7 months ago

Thank goodness for TiVo, DVR and all the other TiVo-like devices. Now I don’t need to be subjected to a countless myriad of irritating and droning commercials about products I have no interest in. One more Ford, GM or Old Navy jingle in my living room is like a modern version of Chinese water torture.

These companies need to invest more in direct marketing and opt-in mediums. Their ceaseless intrusion on TV actually made me not buy their products. Now TiVo has saved the day and given consumers back some control over what we accept in our homes.

Jack Borland
Guest
Jack Borland
14 years 7 months ago
Reach and Frequency are definitely not enough. Relevancy or interest/entertainment value will be the third leg on the stool. The TiVo data is going to help drive down costs for ad spots, except for “must see” live events, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics. It’s also going to put pressure on the bulk of ad agencies to produce “super-entertainment.” Both product placement within shows will go up (a pretty obvious trend) and entertainment content of traditional ad spots has to grow (somewhat less obvious). Audience mindsets of “What’s in it for me?” will determine what gets skipped, and what actually is viewed. The transition from viewing entertainment to identifying with the brand experience will be a tricky one — but a number of players are already managing that. Anything that drives more analysis of hard metrics has got to be good for both the vendors and the consumers — but not for the broadcast media. When you can get more accurate apples to apples comparisons of the results of marketing efforts, alternate channels are… Read more »
James Tenser
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

As with all new media forms, the DVR merely serves to fragment the audience further and to fragment the media behaviors of individuals further. Measuring this closely is important for advertisers, but it still doesn’t tell the whole behavioral story.

The TiVo audience is a self-selected sample, and so cannot be a representative sample of the entire TV audience. Tracking playback behavior will have some value, to be sure, in verifying some actual viewership of ads. I’m less certain that those behaviors can be reliably projected to somehow reflect the whole TV population.

This change in the TV landscape, like shopper media and online advertising, is a cross today’s agencies and brand marketers must bear. Like it or not, the mediascape is becoming more granular and causal. Broad generalities like GRP’s are less likely to provide sufficient understanding of audience behavior to support informed decision making.

Erin Kotch
Guest
Erin Kotch
14 years 7 months ago

It was noted several times that TiVo can’t know if we are watching commercials or just using the break to get food, go to the bathroom, etc. One other problem I am curious how they plan to address: just because my TiVo is on, doesn’t mean my TV is on. For all of us with DVRs, how often to do you make sure you turn off your TiVo when you turn off your TV? The folks at TiVo must think I watch an awful lot of TV…(and almost never skip commercials!)

Kai Clarke
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

This is a large personal security issue. How many people will allow TiVo to track, use and report their usage information to a 3rd party? What about the security of this information and their personal information? Who is guaranteeing and monitoring this? Personal security advocates will have many concerns with using personal tracking information to better identify the usage patterns of viewers without full disclosure, protection and opt-out privacy controls being put in place. I seriously doubt that this is being done, or that consumers are even consciously aware of this. This is more than a case of big brother; now it is big brother and his keeper tracking the consumer! :-O

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 7 months ago

The major issue in advertising has been understanding if it is viewed or not and how it tracks over the long term to the target audience’s awareness and brand preference. Put another way, is it effective and ‘on point’?

There are other research methods, pre-airing to evaluate the strength or weakness of a commercial, print ads, etc. Yes, TiVo may assist in offering consideration to place advertising in other non traditional mediums…which maybe good.

Finally, I’m amazed and amused that some commentators assume all advertising is flawed, or needs improvement. I would suggest in-store advertising and allowances to the trade are automatically flawed. How do we measure these activities, effectively? Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

Reach, frequency, and relevancy mean nothing if the consumer’s behavior isn’t changed. Google ads are valuable because every single one measures click behavior. Radio and TV ads have always been wasteful because the behavior change link is hard to prove.

The TiVo ad-skipping measures aren’t that innovative. For decades, sophisticated advertisers have been measuring ad impact via surveys and test audiences.

Reaching the affluent is the real challenge. Broadcasting (TV and radio) is moving towards 2 audiences: poor people who depend on ad-supported media (free TV, basic cable, AM/FM radio) versus the affluent, who pay for their entertainment and information, in exchange for little or no advertising (premium cable, satellite radio, NetFlix).

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