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Television Media Communications

Tivo Plans Commercials On Demand 251

MCSqrd writes "News.com reports that Tivo will soon feature interactive ads that apparently link from ordinary television commercials. Viewers can activate the link and view extended, interactive content about the product being advertised. Tivo hopes to 'tune in' to a way to keep advertisers on their side since the idea of TV commercials being made obsolete because of PVRs has made them an enemy to marketing departments everywhere. Is anyone else reminded of the blipverts from the Max Headroom series?"
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Tivo Plans Commercials On Demand

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  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:13AM (#8664502)
    This is not a new TiVo feature, it's an underused one at this point. There are a few car company ads that are presently use it.

    The way it works is that the sponsors purchase a TiVo Showcase package, which is an advertising section that has always been part of TiVo. The Showcases can be filled with video content that is spliced out of the "Teleworld Infomercial"... a quasi-weekly program that TiVo purchases during the early morning hours on the Discovery Channel that all TiVos are programmed to return.

    The sponsors then purchase a typical campaign's worth standard 30-second TV spots, and they encode in the VBI (the same place where Closed Captioning hides) a signals that all TiVos understand. This signal tells the TiVo that whenever this spot is encountered, to display a "Press Thumbs Up For More Information" icon while it is playing. If the user gives the confirming thumbs up signal on their remote, they're transported directly to the Showcase section for that sponsor. Whenever the user chooses to leave the Showcase, they'll be returned to exactly where they were in whatever program they were viewing.

    You might be surprised to know that TiVo is recording this Teleworld Infomercial program, because it's never directly displayed in the user interface. You also might think that TiVo is kidnapping some of your diskspace... but in fact they're saving the ad content to the "reserved section" of TiVo's funky Linux-based OS. You never had access to that disk volume, and they already subtracted this space from the advertised hour-wise capacity of a unit. If you upgrade your TiVo's HD size, all of the additional space created goes to user recordings, the reserved space stays the same size.

    Gotta give TiVo credit, they're finding a revenue model that actually issues a challenge to advertisers... come up with some ad content that makes people want to watch it.
    • I'de be willing to watch information about upcoming movies.... Tivo already has some of that stuff in their current advertising setup.
      • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:27AM (#8664595) Journal
        Damn, that's a good idea. Full length trailers stored on your Tivo, so you can pick through what's playing at your local theatre without having to go hunting around on the web, waiting for the trailers to download. I wish I had that capability on my ReplayTV :(
        • by Roger Keith Barrett ( 712843 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:39AM (#8664672)
          Right now they have some trailers once in a while, but I am sure Tivo has to be paid for them to push it out there.

          Too bad... maybe Tivos will continue to evolve and they will become the set to interative box we have always read about... able to get all the movie times, buy tickets, order chineese food.. whatever. Maybe when everyone has broadband...
          • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:44AM (#8664710)
            Actually, TiVo has figured out that it's much easier for them to throw out data over the broadcast airwaves. DirecTV-tied units get almost all of their data via download of a datastream on the satellites, and only use the modem call to send upbound reports. TiVo presently sends out software updates via the modem because they perfer to slowly roll out new versions to randomly selected customers before pushing them to the general population.
            • Well, mine (I have two version 1 tivos) is set up to do all updates via a Wi-Fi connection. It's not really set up for it, but if you hack your tivo you can set it up to download forcasts, email, and the like. I agree that for video it's a lot better just to buy the time on the Discovery channel and have the machine save it, but what I was saying is that Tivo boxes could probably also do some of the services that cable companies were supposed to do better than they do now. With the services that have came
          • by Skidge ( 316075 ) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:54AM (#8665023)
            As far as viewing movie times, there's a project on sourceforge called JavaHMO [sourceforge.net] which is a Java-based replacement for TiVo's Home Media Option server. In addition to the normal functionality of playing mp3s and viewing photos, it allows you to view local movie times and weather forcasts through your TiVo's HMO menu. I played around with it a while ago and though it was rough around the edges at the time, it showed some nice promise. I'm not sure what it's like with current versions.
      • I willing watched a Ford commercial about a 500 HP car they got coming out soon, and the Chevy showcase that they had a couple of months ago. Some of the showcase things are goofy, but I guess they have a large potential audience to vie for, and rotate ads accordingly. Heck, they are about the only commercials I watch now. Occasionally, I will find myself catching a glimpse of an interesting commercial while in 30 second skip and will rewind it to see what the ad was. I'm MadAve's wet dream, someone who wil
        • The only interaction I want with commercials is when i press fast forward. Actually, I don't want to interact with them at all if possible.I know what I want and Amazon.com servers my need for reviews quite well.
          • Amen to that, brother.

            I think we should lobby for government to mandate that broadcasters transmit some sort of machine-readable flag to indicate whether content is "editorial" or "advertising". Of course, the specs should be open.

            I would also like to see a television set with advert-blocking features given to the Queen. Then, if anybody shows an advert with the flag set incorrectly -- so the Queen's set shows it, when it was set not to -- they've just committed treason!
    • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:25AM (#8664584) Journal
      I think where Tivo will make the most headway will be with smaller cable networks. The problem is, there aren't very many of them left. Why do I say this? The major networks (all of whom either own major cable channels or have major investments in cable providers) are wholly against Tivo poaching "their" ad dollars. Their attitude is that if they're going to allow Tivo to put up adverts (and they need to pass some sort of signal to provide this capability) then they want a cut of the action.

      The only way around this is for Tivo to go court the little guys, and thus force the incumbents to follow their lead, or lose ad dollars. I imagine the advertisers are curious to try this feature - the only question is, will they get the chance?

      Another revenue source that Tivo really ought to be persuing is movies-on-demand. They should try streaming data in much the same way Disney's Moviebeam does, only over broadband connections (for those who have it.) Thus, for the marginal cost of a "premium" subscription, users can also order the latest movies. I don't think that many people would end up keeping this movie-on-demand service, but it'd be a great lure for people to sign up for Tivo service in general, and for them to keep the basic scheduling service.
      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:28AM (#8664603)
        DirecTiVo's already have a video on demand feature for Starz movie channel subscribers... basically it automatically records all first-run movies on Starz and places them in a special section of the interface.

        It's much easier for TiVo to broadcast content than to stream it over the Internet... just like how they push the Showcases out over a late-night infomerical on the Discovery Channel.
        • My local Insight cable co does something similar I think. One exception, they seem to do it all on their end of the cable and the digital cable boxes they rent out are made to access that.

          They actually have vod for starz, hbo, showtime and encore.. you have to actually subscribe to each of those packages to get it, but afaik there's no additional cost for it.
    • Nissan Did This (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tbdean ( 163865 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:42AM (#8664700) Homepage
      One of the best ones I saw was for the Nissan 350Z. In the Showcase it said to press 'select' and they'd mail me a DVD of the Z racing around Prague. Sure enough, a bit later a DVD showed up at my door after simply pressing a button on my remote.

      Now that's a powerful car commercial.
      • Re:Nissan Did This (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TGK ( 262438 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @08:58AM (#8666080) Homepage Journal
        Hell of a lot more powerful than you realize. There are a number of factors that make a commercial powerfull (these are in ascending order).

        1 - Brand Recognition: Just putting that Nike Swoosh on the screen reminds me who Nike is, why I should buy their product, and brings to mind decades of advertising and social conditioning.

        2 - Rational Argument: Our product costs less, our product does X. Statments of fact leading a consumer to choose one product over another. Informing the customer about the product. These are key, particulary for large purchases.

        3 - Irrational Argument: Warm "feel good" images cause people to associate a product with an emotion or set of desired circumstances. You see this most in prepackaged food ads. Note the family sitting down to dinner together, note the wholsome looking meal, everyone smiling, etc. The families these ads are targed at genrealy don't have the time for this, and frequently mom and dad desire it.

        4 - Coolness Factor: Product endorsements fit in here. This is particularly influential over children. Be like Mike anyone?

        5 - Social Impact: The most powerfull advertising weapon of all and the hardest to tame. The creation of a commericial that gets people talking about the commercial means that people must necessary talk about the product. The honda element commercial? The Salmon commercial (with the bear that does kung foo... don't remember the name). The Cat Hearders commercial. Pepsi through the Generations Commercial. If people remember and can discuss your ads years later you've had a lasting impact on them.

        So the Nissan 350Z managed to hit the Social Impact meter pretty hard. How many hundreds of thousands who've never seen that add just read your comment? I for one didn't even realize that Nissan made a high end sports car, now I know not only that they do, I know the name of it, and I know there's probably video of it out on the net of it zipping about Prague. Now I haven't a red cent to buy the blasted thing with, but now its in my head, and that's the point of advertising.
    • The killer idea will be this:

      User must watch 5 ads in any given ad break. If an ad comes on that they're not interested in, they just hit NEXT. They can keep calling up new ads, but they must fully play 5 before the program will continue. That way, consumers are shown stuff in which they're interested, and advertisers aren't wasting impressions on others.
      • by Roger Keith Barrett ( 712843 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:14AM (#8664862)
        ...and they already have the basic system to do a lot of this. Instead of pressing thumbs up for the SHOWS they'll be doing that for the commercials, too... they can get a database of liked commercials just like they can get a database of liked tv shows.

        now all you have to do is get the custom commercials down to the machine.
      • What happens if you actually leave the room while the advert breaks are on? You know, some of us get thirsty, so we get up and light the kettle ..... and all that tea or coffee has to go somewhere in the end, which is another reason to get up .....

        I don't see that there is anything the advertisers can do about this, unless they broadcast "capttchas" in along with the adverts, which must be solved in order to confirm that you have actually been paying attention to them.
    • It's not just TiVo. In the UK, Sky TV has their "red button" interactive service, and I've noticed recently that some adverts now have the "press the red button to see extended footage of this advert".

      Adidas has been a case in point for this, having extra footage of their Ali fight ad. etc.
    • It's also old news to those of us in the old world. Sky Digital has had this sort of thing for ages. When watching advertisments on digital you will get a small pop-up which suggests that pressing the red button will take you to more information. This can be anything and everything.

      It's also used on British digital television for interactive content associated with television programming. For example, there was a programme on Great Britons and asked the audience to choose who they thought was the greate
  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:13AM (#8664504) Homepage Journal
    Advertisers can put ads on websites and if a user is attracted and interested in the product, they can click the banner and learn more about the product.

    The system doesn't work.
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:02AM (#8664812) Homepage Journal
      "The system doesn't work."

      Are you saying that banner ads don't work? (Or are you referring to TiVo? Not sure I understand the phrasing of your sentence here. If I misread your point I'm sorry.)

      Banner ads do work. That's why Slashdot's still here. If people are genuinely interested in the product being advertised, they go click the link. What doesn't work is that you can only get so much from them. Putting a Tampax banner on Slashdot isn't going to generate a lot of hits. Putting a ThinkGeek banner on Slashdot, however, generates a lot of views from interested people.

      There are ways to make advertising work on the web. The first step, however, is not to get your hopes up high about how many people will come. The second is to target your audience. The third is to make your banner provide information that they're interested in. A whoopdeedoo flashy banner won't work as well as saying "This item is cool, here's why."

      So could the TiVo think work? Potentially, yes. Start small. The R2D2 toy comes to mind. Show an ad for that during Enterprise. How many people watching that show would click the button? How many of those are genuinely interesting advertising hits? Think about it.
  • Commercials? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elcheesmo ( 646907 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:15AM (#8664515)
    Why would you link from commercials that nobody watches if they have a TiVo anyways?
    • Re:Commercials? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:18AM (#8664542)
      TiVo actually has research to prove that people will actually rewatch a Pepsi comercial if Britney Spears is performing a dance routine while singing the soda company's jingle.

      So it's not fair to say that nobody watches comercials with a TiVo... it's just that the ad sponsors have to come up with comercials people will want to watch when given the ability to "gong" them off the stage with a fast forward button.
      • "gong" them off the stage

        Beautiful analogy!
      • by core plexus ( 599119 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:36AM (#8664652) Homepage
        I'm willing to bet that if advertisers put nudity and sex in their adverts, then no matter what the product, a good percentage of people will watch it. And record it. And watch it again.

        Helen: "I'm so apalled, have you seen the latest Alexortus advertisement?"
        Nancy: "Yes, simply shocking, watch this part, wait I'll slow-mo it, you can see yis penis!"

        And they'll replay it til its worn out...and I'll leave it to the readers imagination what transpired in the meantime.


        President Bush to Liberate Alaska [alaska-freegold.com]

        • I'm willing to be a large number of consumers have to take a piss.

          Really. I've borrowed events that friends have taped for me and having the commercials in place serves a couple of useful functions. Obvious sometimes you gotta go to the bathroom, and most event with commercials break the show up into logical scenes so taking a piss doesn't distrupt the flow of the show. Also, considering that almost every tv has got a "MUTE" button, commercials can be a good opportunity to turn off the sound and discuss
        • "But that's the problem with this country, one of the many, but this whole issue of sexuality and pornography, which I don't understand what pornography is, I really don't. To me, pornography is, you know, spending all your money and not educating the people in America, and spending it instead on weapons, that's pornographic to me, that's totally filthy, and etc., etc., down the line, you all in your fucking hearts know the goddamned arguments, okay, great. But no one knows what pornography is. Supreme Cour
      • it's just that the ad sponsors have to come up with comercials people will want to watch

        To Advertisers: WHAT A CONCEPT!

      • Yea, I admit I will watch a commercial if its the first time i've seen it and its not for drugs, cars or pet food (those are pretty easy to spot in the first few miliseconds).

        Tivo did actully have a thumbs up feature during a commercial for a tv show, press thumbs up to schedule it to be recorded, I was so excited I pressed thumbs up even though I was already scheduled to record it! I've only seen that once though, I think its alot better feature then the "let us guess what you might like".
        • Re:Commercials? (Score:3, Informative)

          by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
          NBC is the major user of that automatic scheduling capability. However, in order to see it, you must be looking at a promo for an upcoming show that hasn't already aired yet. Most TiVo users are more than a couple days behind in their TV viewing and therefore are too late to have the automatic scheduler work, the show being promoted is already in the past.
  • by ---s3V3n--- ( 398159 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:15AM (#8664518)
    Now if only Tivo got some google sense and tied their ads into keywords (which could be easily fetched on most channels supporting captions).

    Googled has proven that targeted ads work, why not try it in Tivo.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:15AM (#8664520)
    Is anyone else reminded of the blipverts from the Max Headroom series?"
    No, because this is the inverse of a blipvert. A blipvert was a split-second commerical inserted into Network XXIII programs, which had the unfortunate side effect of causing overweight viewers to explode.

    This feature actually requires user input (a confirming click of the green Thumbs Up key during the conventional 30-second ad) in order to jump to a 3-minute presentation that has been stored on the TiVo harddrive. The user can bail out of the 3-minute presentation at any time and return to their "live" stream whenever they want. TiVo will do the favor of pausing the program at exactly the point they left it, where the user can fast-forward to catch up as much as they want.
  • The reason people buy Tivo is so that they can AVOID commercials. We don't want special "targeted content" ads that will get sucked down into our Tivos without asking us.

    First my Tivo thinks I'm gay because of that one Queer Eye episode I watched, now this!

    • Yes, but what if you where interested in buying something, I'll use a car for example.

      Wouldn't it be nice if TiVO could download informaiton on cars, and then you could have it display that information at your leasure?

      I think TiVo could make a go at that, and it still has enough degrees of seperation that the marketing people can continue to think commercials work as well as they think they do.
      • Wouldn't it be nice if TiVO could download informaiton on cars, and then you could have it display that information at your leasure?

        Rather like those mailing lists you can subscribe to when you install your WeatherBug or similar software... the ones that flood your inbox that you never pay attention to, and won't ever go away dispite the fact you are no longer interested.


    • People don't buy Tivo's only because they don't want to see commercials, they also buy it so they can watch shows without the hassle of programming their VCR and worrying about whether the tape is set right inside of it (Think a few button clicks on the tivo remote vs. a long string of button and number pushing on the vcr remote).

      Saying that the reason people buy Tivo is only to avoid commercials is not correct.
  • Data sink (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Yonkeltron ( 720465 )
    It's only a matter of time before these ads start becoming more tailored to the individual and they do things to get your personal information like buying from data brokers and taking your registration information from nytimes.com!!!
  • by Roger Keith Barrett ( 712843 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:18AM (#8664545)
    They already did this, I believe, at least once last year. When a certain car commercial came on (can't remember which one.. maybe M.B. or V.W.) it went to an extended commercial if you wanted by hitting the thumbs up button. Not much to talk about really... the tivo is set up to save messages and commercials from the air at 3:00am on scheduled days.

    There are other types of commercials too... for instance right now there are a couple of previews for Dawn of the Dead. They are just extending this out to more non-entertainment products too. You don't have to watch them if you don't want to.
  • not bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AnonymousCowheart ( 646429 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:19AM (#8664549) Homepage
    Thats actually not too bad of an idea. I know lots of times I'll be watching TV, see something interesting, and then head over to the computer to find out more about it. What would be really cool, if we could pick what type of commercials we want to view. God knows I don't need to see that damn tampax sinking boat commercial one more time! Not a crazy idea, think how well sites like adcritic.com did.
    • There's already a trend where advertisers create a commercial that starts as a 30-second TV spot, and then ends with a "To be continued at..." sign that directs viewers to their web site for the remaining minutes. The "Ballroom Blitz" car ad is one such example.

      What TiVo's basically offering is a way for the sponsor to have the longform ad sitting on the TiVo and one thumb-click away so the viewer can instantly see the rest on demand...
    • I dunno....I think the chick is kind a cute....

      But seriously, the following commercials have got to go:
      -car commercials
      -tampon commercials
      -commercials for medication that don't tell you what the hell it's for
      -ambulance chaser commercials

      the following can stay:
      -Jack in the Box commercials
      -beer commercials, because they're usually entertaining

      I'm sure I'm missing a lot, anyone care to add to either list?
  • by DanThe1Man ( 46872 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:20AM (#8664554)
    I have a feeling this will be a popular feature with the "Girls Gone Wild" commercials.
  • by laugau ( 144794 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:22AM (#8664571)
    Imagine this:
    Instead of 30 second commercials you fast forward through, all the commercials were on your Tivo as well. and tivo only recorded commercials for products that you liked (tivo commercial suggestions). That way, you don't HAVE to watch a commercial to watch a show... but Tivo makes money (and stays in business) so that I can continue to get their service while not getting commericals.... I like this a LOT

    And if Tivo can make a little money from the Ad firms without impacting my viewing habits , then so be it.

    The only problem I might have with it is if my Tivo had the wrong idea of what I liked and didn't like. What a horrible time I might have if my Tivo recorded only ads for feminine hygiene products....
  • by SYFer ( 617415 ) * <syfer@syfe3.14159r.net minus pi> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:22AM (#8664572) Homepage
    I believe that before long, the TV ad model will shift radically (for that medium anyway). Just as ads are "integrated" into newspaper and magazine content (sharing the page), web content and even the landscape, ads on TV will soon appear along with the content.

    The reason this shared model works in those other mediums is simple: people will not volunteer to read ads in any meaningful way. Ads in a "volunteer" model are only viewed by people already interested in or involved with the subject. Ads currently also serve the far broader and more valuable (to advertisers anyway) function of exposing poeple to "new" things. in life, as in target marketing, the things we covet the most are often the most elusive. A lot of the people who will want to see an ad for some boring car are probably people who already bought one and are reveling in post-purchase reinforcement behavior. The guy who likes his current boring car breezes past the ad.

    Soon, when you are watching that Seinfeld re-run on your wide screen HiDef TV, you'll see that the content is really the same size and there's an advertising sidebar touting Craftsman (TM) Tools or Noxema or whatever.

    Currently, it appears that the loose boundry is at network self-promos ("watch such and such on Friday" stuff in the lower third), but some day soon, we'll see a little animated Lexus cruise across the bottom of the screen during "The Apprentice." Look at the Discovery Channel now--they're champing at the bit for this.

    • Which, in reality, is exactly how TV ads were at the start. Originally, nearly every show had a name-in-the-title sponsor who was worked into the show in other ways. That's starting to make a comeback, such as on the WB's summer music show called "Pepsi Smash" which had Pepsi logos all over the set. Other sponsors would also be scene during ads in the show, but one could not even say the title of the show without mentioning Pepsi.
      • I think it will have to go far beyond the capabilities of mere "placement" though. That's far too labor intensive.

        Think of the sheer volume of ad inventory out there now and you can see the magnitude of the loss. And not all products are "placeable" either. I don't think you'll hear a sitcom character talk about how comfortable her Playtex Brand Tampons are (not post-Jackson nipple anyway). What about the local ads? Placement's always been there, but we're looking at a whole new beast. There's a lot
        • by Londovir ( 705740 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:17AM (#8664877)
          It's been true enough in the world of sports for quite some time already. If you ever watch old replays on ESPN Classic, you can see the gradual intrusion of advertising into the sports arena.

          It used to be the Sugar Bowl. Now it's the Nokia Sugar Bowl. Was the Fiesta Bowl. Now it's the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Don't ask fans of the old Candlestick Park what they think of the arena's "new" name. That's just the tip of the iceberg there. What about NASCAR? Is there anyone watching NASCAR who doesn't feel off-kilter when they can't say "Winston Cup" anymore? Does anybody remember that, rather than the name of an award/trophy, they are talking about a vendor when they say that?

          Media advertising has been with us for some time, lurking in the shadows of consciousness. The seminal symbol of sports events, the Goodyear Blimp, is itself a giant advertising billboard flying from one sporting/concert event to another. Watch any televised World Cup soccer match, where instead of commercial breaks people may take a trip to the bathroom or kitchen during (and miss), you are now subconciously enticed into viewing an advertising logo every 12.5 seconds when you peer at the score or time remaining. Need I now point out the even more incredibly intrusive AOL yellow "dude" that runs onto the football field to display the first down yellow line? (That one killed me the first time I saw it...talk about marketing)

          The more DVRs like ReplayTV and Tivo make the rounds, the more this sort of advertising will integrate itself into the programming itself. If not in some blatant smack of product placement ("Vote for the next American Idol by sending VOTE with your AT&T Wireless cell phone"), then certainly by some subtle logo or "bug" placed in such a way that you can't exclude the logo with any technological means without severly impacting the watchability of the programming itself.

          I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see television programming deriving someday to the "watch-per-view" format that many premium websites go lately which require you to sit and watch a 30sec commercial before proceeding to the next page/download/etc. With the convergence of digital media and control devices (remotes, etc), it's not unlikely you'd get some method where you must watch a commercial and key a code on your remote to continue with the show. Incredibly invasive -- yes -- effective to force people to watch a commercial -- absolutely. How many people could they force to sit through mandatory commercials to watch the Friends finale in May?
    • But they already ARE integrated into motion-media content! Haven't you seen Wayne's World? =)
  • "I think it was Shakespeare who once said:

    'Blipverts may come / And blipverts may go / But the laziness upon which they breed is with us always.'

    Actually, that's quite good; perhaps it was me who said it."

    --Max Headroom, Newsweek , 20 April 1987

  • I like it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Controlio ( 78666 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:31AM (#8664619)
    Though a lot of people like to complain about the "yellow star" ads, I have found several of them quite useful. Even the direct promotions. A good example: There is a TiVo PVR that will burn directly to DVD. For a couple of weeks they had a yellow star ad that included 4 minute and 1 minute walkthroughs about the features and benefits of the unit. Pretty standard. But there was a third link which requested product literature. I liked the product, so I requested the lit. Got it a week later, read through it, and made a purchase decision.

    It's horribly efficient. No "type in this 30-character URL", no "type in all your mailing info here", just push select and voila. This isn't the first time I've done it... TiVo offered a promotional DVD to give to your friends to tell them about TiVo. They made it available online, and via yellow star. Clicked, got the DVD. No hassles. No typing. Easy. And even after opting in (you can opt in, neutral, or out) to data collection in my personal preferences, I receive no junk mail or spam whatsoever from these companies. I get what I ask for, and nothing else.

    This could be a phenomenal money maker for TiVo if done right. If I'm interested in your product, and you make information gathering as easy as pushing the "Thumbs Up" while watching the commercial (ala TiVoMatic icon), I guarantee I watch your 3- or 4-minute promotional video. Everyone wins. It helps the sponsor promote their product, and it does so without pissing off the end-user, because they request the video, they're not force fed. Now it becomes a convenience instead of an annoyance.

    I hope the rest of the marketing world takes a good hard look at this business model... make your information easily accessible, don't beat your target audience over the head with it.
  • by modder ( 722270 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:31AM (#8664624)
    because... (drumroll)... there were no commercials.

    A technology attempting to defeat commercials wants to have commercials. How unpredictable.
  • Wrong Direction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:36AM (#8664656)
    I gave TiVo a suggestion when I first got my TiVo and heard all of the "TiVo will die" comments everywhere. My suggestion was that TiVo should allow the thumbing of commercials. Then they could sell that information to advertisers so they'd know what commercials that people thought were good.

    This would allow me to let Quizno's know that I can't stand there singing hair balls.
    • However, it will have to pass through the 7 Layer Burrito Of Management for approval first.

      I like the "spongmonkeys" in the Quiznos ads. They're a great way to get everyone in the office really irritated with you. :)

      Some commercials are just lame. I can't stand the flood of drug commercials (Valtrex/etc) and I am so sick of car commercials that I want to scream. Letting Tivo know "Hey, this ad sucks!" or "Hey, this rocks!" is a fairly useful function.

      Then again, I don't know why they haven't added some o
    • As someone else noted, they are indeed Rather Good...

      Too bad the very best work of Rather Good, the punk kittens doing "Fell in love with a girl" is offline.

  • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:40AM (#8664677) Homepage
    so I can watch the commercials I want. Yes, I do like watching some commercials.

    But all this data has to come from the broadcasters. Too much extra work? Perhaps the Ad Slots are not filled until the last minute, so this might not be practical...

    Maybe there should be an All Commercial Channel with indexed searchable commercials. I'd watch it!

    Well, no actually, "I'd TIVO it".

  • Reminders (Score:5, Funny)

    by lewko ( 195646 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:41AM (#8664682) Homepage
    "Is anyone else reminded of the blipverts from the Max Headroom series?"

    No, but I am reminded of the "Want more?" hyperlink which appeared on the futuristic televisions in Starship Troopers.
    Damn... Now I am also reminded of Denise Richards in Spandex.

  • as a tpical how-did-I-live-without-it tivo owner, I alternate between 30-seconding over commercials and FFing through them. I often catch a glimpse of a cute one that I will go back and look at. some are great, "honey come here!"-quality ads. I've actaully got a tape that I put the best ones onto, like the one where the kid smashes a jelly doughnut and launches the jelly into his brother's mouth (more or less.) and I've watched a few of the showcase ones, too. entertaining ads can be as good as anything els
  • by dougman ( 908 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:52AM (#8664758)
    First off, it's already been mentioned but I'll say it again - the technology has been in use for a while. I can remember the first time I took advantage of this and watched a whole half hour segment on the Chrysler Crossfire.

    The point I really wanted to make though is that a service like Tivo has the ability to change how commercials are delivered and viewed. I'll admin I enjoy watching *some* commercials. If I can watch targeted ads about things I'm interested in (technology, home improvement, food/wine) or could look actually pick commercials in a season-pass sort of way to find truly unique ones (like the Rube-Golberg inspired 'Cog' commercial from Honda) [imediaconnection.com] I'd surf commercials out of curiosity. I think the advertising industry could start making stars out of ad directors/designers/producers much like people follow certain individuals who create the shows we watch. Maybe it seems a bit far out, but Tivo has the technology to deliver the next generation of advertising.

    --"I am a strong believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." -- Benjamin Franklin
  • Smart move. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2004 @01:56AM (#8664778)
    What I'd see happening is Tivo figuring out what the end user might be doing, based upon what they're watching. Sci-fi -- reruns of B5, Star Trek, Stargate, etc. -- suggests you're a nerd, so you get adverts for the latest Intel processor, and other such things, for example. And so on.

    The key thing is it has to be done intelligently. Present the spiel, then let the end user wander through information about the product. Eg: car adverts: things like torque, horsepower, fuel economy, safety features, etc. Let the user feel like he's in control, not the advertiser. I'm sure that adverts of that nature would be of greater use to the end user than adverts saying "But wait! There's more! If you buy now, you get this FREE SET OF STEAK KNIVES!"

  • by trick-knee ( 645386 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:07AM (#8664835) Homepage
    > Is anyone else reminded of the blipverts from the Max Headroom series?

    no, but it seems to me that Max Headroom was interesting because it was simply something different to look at. unfortunately, at this point in the flow of time, old school TV commercials aren't so interesting anymore.

    what Tivo needs to do is promote some sort of development of interactive software that the viewer will *want* to mess around with. that way, Tivo could keep the viewer engaged while waiting for something less interactive to come along, like the next feed of some pr0n.

    of course, I'm talking about a game that's fun to play and has Pepsi splattered all over it. Pepsi gets advertized, producers of old school commercials move to a new industry, Tivo gets its viable business model of commercials on demand, and geeks get paid.

    what am I missing?
    • I don't really want my Tivo to incorporate Flash, Java, .Net, or some other idiotic interative presentation language.
    • Games infused with an advertisements is not a new concept. I've seen several companies do it. Remeber Spot, the game infused with 7UP branding. It actually did quite well. I picked up a used copy for $10 and it was fun.

      Frankly, the whole Mickey Mouse series on the Genesis was quite well done, and clearly smacked of a Disney tie-in.

      It's done quite a bit. Maybe you could write a simple game for a PDA, RealPlayer, or cell phone. I've thought about tinkering with a game, thus creating a neat little demo
  • The theory of natural selection provides us a model for where this harebrained advertising revenue scheme will lead us, and the destination is not a pleasant one at all.

    First, it is clear that only certain types of products will compel people to click their remote control buttons to peruse their related advertisements.

    What types of products? Well first off, flashy toys like cars, boats, tech gadgets and videogames. "Blockbuster" type movies and popular music are also included in this category. Other k
    • You were modded funny, but I still haven't figured out if you're joking or not. :( I assume not. :)

      Eventually formerly family entertainment media will morph into an intellectual and spiritual wasteland pushing immediate gratification, cheap thrills on an unsuspecting public.

      You started that sentence with that particular word and kept a straight face?

  • Blipverts? (Score:3, Informative)

    by fucksl4shd0t ( 630000 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:33AM (#8664949) Homepage Journal

    From the article summary:

    Is anyone else reminded of the blipverts from the Max Headroom series?"

    No, but you just proved you're an idiot. You see a banner ad on a webpage, and you know that if you click it you'll read more information about the product, right? That's apparently what this thing is.

    Blipverts, in Max Headroom, were taking a commercial that normally lasts 30 seconds and compressing it down to say 1 second or so. Then a person watches it, gets so much mental stimulation that generates electrical pulses in the body and causes them to explode.

    Not the same thing at all. So you can take off your computer-simulated tin-foil hat, this time.

  • Right.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:40AM (#8664971) Homepage
    ...so I bet they're going to measure the success of these commercials based on the click-through ratio? Goodness knows that worked for web ads, right? Right?

  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi.yahoo@com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @02:41AM (#8664979) Journal
    TNT, SCI, Comedy Central and other channels have a way of throwing up an annoying and obscuring ad at the bottom of the screen. I have seen ones that obscure text such as subtitles, and other things that I am trying to read. (great timing, BTW) Not to mention the noisy ones that wreck any atmosphere the show may have generated by breaking glass, screeching tires and other sound effects intended to gain your attention.

    I'm pretty sure I'm seeing the last days of television (as I knew it and literally) when I see this stuff, because all it does it annoy the hell out of me.

    I would so much rather have product placement (like a Ford car chase in a recent Alias), than the crappy 'splash screens' that are pushing shows that I will never watch. Ever.

    BTW, Ford seems to be everywhere these days. Tivo had a clip on the GT 40, couple of minutes and kinda cool. On American Idol (don't get me started, I'm a musician and married - guess what won?), there was a 'video' that was the most blatant product placement I've ever seen. It was a 2 plus minute Ford commercial that made me not want a Ford and hate all on the screen, because it was so obvious 'THIS IS WHAT WE ARE SELLING'.

    I can appreciate advertising. I deal with marketing my company -- I know that eyeballs count. But, (and I don't need a 4 year worthless degree to know this) the first rule is 'Do no harm.' Just like a doctor, but for your product's image.

    Give me something new, and something that doesn't insult my intelligence (or lack thereof), don't play it into the ground (do you want to hear Freebird, Stairway or American Pie again?) and I may consider your product. At least I won't add it to the brain 'Hate File' and refuse to buy it for my irrational dislike of your marketing. People are irrational (that's also the first rule. See?)

    And seriously, the all-obscuring splash screens will insure that I will: Be pissed off at whatever you're pushing, Be pissed off at your station/channel/advertiser, and look for my show(s) on the web (bye ad dollars), DVD (see you sponsors) or give it up for good (Oh NO!).

    Sleep on it. And Ford? Way to get me to complement and complain about you on Slashdot. Well played, sir. I'm still not buying an Escort.

  • Product placement (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Product placement will be the only last resort, when (not if) Tivo and similar products reach critical mass; when commercials are mostly skippable; and when the damnable "bugs" and other annoyances in lower corners of shows finally exhaust their usefulness.

    TV will come full-circle. We'll be back to the grand old days of radio and early TV, where the show practically came to a stop so that a character or announcer could break a 4th wall and tell you about a product. (E.g. the moment in The Truman Show when
    • You know, I wouldn't mind sitting through commercials if they came BEFORE the program, during a 3 min half-way intermission, and just before the credits rolled, and a minute or two after. I wouldn't mind these things because right now, they're screwing with the schedule, overlapping shows so parts of one get cut off if you're recording multiple shows on different channels, and doing other very, very, very annoying things.

      I think PBS has the formula just right - run the commercials in the beginning, and ru
  • "Is anyone else reminded of the blipverts from the Max Headroom series?"

    Considering bliperts were clandestine advertising schemes that inadvertantly resulted in sponaneous combustion of brain matter, no.

  • Sky Digital (Score:4, Informative)

    by RahoulB ( 178873 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @03:11AM (#8665085) Homepage
    Is this not like the "red button" programmes and adverts on Sky Digital?

    A red circle appears at the top of the screen and if you want to know more, hit red and it takes you into a whole "interactive" section?
  • I LIKE commercials!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by barfy ( 256323 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @03:58AM (#8665235)
    But I hate interstitials (the ones that interrupt shows)...

    TIVO already sells a commercial space, and I reguarly watch them. They tend to have high production value and are usually entertaining. And I can CHOOSE to watch them or not... And most importantly WHEN I feel like watching them.

    I like commercials in my newspaper and magazines. I am introduced to all sorts of stuff that I ultimately purchase that way.

    I hate them during TV shows, but the TIVO method is better. I am INTERESTED in the commercial. I am paying attention to the message. And I have been sold by some (especially for movies, trailers and some supporting marketing stuff). This is very good for the marketers.

    But, that said, there is still a problem. Commercials pay for most of the TV I watch (I watch alot of NICHE channels TLC Discovery, Travel, Food,SciFi, etc), and I have watched damned few commercials in the last 3 years. If everyone went to TIVO, I am not sure I would like TV as much, or that there would be the things that I like on TV, or it would be MUCH more expensive than it is currently.

    I don't think this is the answer, as I am not sure how the shows benefit from TIVO based commercial sales. And TIVO is really only valuable to me, if there is TV I want to watch. So, 5 percent of you, buy a TIVO, for the other other 95 percent, TIVO sucks, just watch regular TV...

    That should work out best for me...
  • Is anyone else reminded of the blipverts from the Max Headroom series?"

    No, but I am reminded of the main actor from that series.W-w-w-w-w-what was his n-n-n-n-name again and did he ever do anything useful/rememberable after that besides 6six [imdb.com]?
  • Cogs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ianmalcm ( 591345 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:59AM (#8665383)
    Maybe with a system like this in place, advertisers will finally air all the cool commercials seen online and overseas. That Honda "Cogs" advert was the coolest thing never seen on US television. Tivo is providing an outlet for advertisers to show extended ads like that from Honda. This also gives opportunity to showcase great storymercials, like Reebok's Terry Tate. The "skip commercials" argument is bogus - most people buy a Tivo to replace the VCR. Ask most people why they actually watch the entire Super Bowl every year - its the adverts. So there IS a big viewer market for good advertising.
    • I thought the Honda Cog "ad" was something never aired anywhere, not just "not aired in US". My impression was that it was a promo video never intended to air because of its length.
  • and no Cue:Cat jokes yet?
  • The secret to good ads? Make them entertaining. I'd always fast forward through ads, but some were entertaining enough that I'd watch them anyways.

    I don't mind being sold to, I just mind being bored.
  • Users Plan to Not Watch Them

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @07:23AM (#8665785)
    I have a TiVo 1 I just need to fix the modem at some point. But when it was working I actually watched more Commercials then I have done before. On Normal TV when there is a commercial I naturally tune out and focus on something other then TV. But with the TiVo I now focus on Fast forwarding threw commercials, so my eyes are on every commercial moving past me at 4x speed, seeing every logo, and if something in the commercial was truly eye catching I stopped rewind and watched it again, normal. When I had the TiVo I was far more consumer savvy then I am now with disabled TiVo.
  • This could actually be useful if you could pull up commercial messages that you actually found useful. Like, if you enjoy a funny commercial, you could watch it again and again. Or more practically, if you preferred commercials that were strictly informative and objective and honest, you could call those up (all zero of them) and get good, reliable information on products you were considering purchasing.

    People already do this, in fact, when they use the internet to research a purchase they are considerin
  • Junk mailers, spammers, purveyors of popup ads, and advertisers in general are always asserting that many people enjoy their ads.

    The whole business model for Internet banner ads, popups, etc. is based on the assumption that you will welcome ads for product categories of interest to you. So was the Prodigy online service (in the days before it became an ordinary ISP).

    The failure of this business model should be proof, if proof were needed, that most people, most of the time, detest being interrupted or dis

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!