Monday, November 12, 2007

TiVo to the Rescue?

Hot on the heals of the Google/Nielsen partnership, TiVo has entered the measurement fray with its announcement that it will begin providing advertisers with data on the viewing (and skipping) habits of consumers using TiVo’s panel of 20,000 set-top boxes. This has the potential to be far more illuminating than the Nielsen data as TiVo can provide insight into who is skipping ads (both on the demographic/lifestyle segment level and on the individual-addressable level) and which ones they are skipping. The result could be a wealth of information on ad performance, sliced and diced on many dimensions.

Even more interesting, TiVo will offer advertisers the ability to learn (on a blind basis) the viewing habits of their actual customers. By providing TiVo with a customer file, marketers can get insight into exactly how many (and which types) of customers are skipping their ads, which should help both fine-tune message execution and enhance negotiations with networks.

TiVo still can’t tell us who is watching the ads – only who isn’t. But with its jump on the interactive feature options, TiVo may be faster to offer advertisers the back-end direct response element of the engagement chain.

This is a promising frontier for advertisers seeking to understand the actual payback of their advertising investments. It’s not in itself a magic bullet, but another step forward in getting the objective insight we need to draw credible conclusions.

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