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TiVo to Measure Ad-Skipping 261

jaredmauch writes "USA Today is reporting that TiVo will measure how many users skip ads of roughly 20k random users. This follows Nielsen Ratings service providing individual commercial ratings. Overall this is expected to reduce the cost of advertisements on television and perhaps make them more on-topic? I'd consider providing feedback (thumbs-up/down) to ads if it'd make those that are no longer relevant to me go away." I'm kinda surprised they don't have this data already. I mean, weren't they able to track the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction a few years ago?
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TiVo to Measure Ad-Skipping

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  • by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:40AM (#15784037)
    I hope they use a doubleint.
  • Whats the Motive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lecithin ( 745575 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:42AM (#15784055)
    Many people skip commercials on Tivo, it is one of the selling points. Now they are going to track the who, what, and when people ff skip the commercials?

    "During the initial rollout, TiVo will not provide personal, demographic data on the sample group."

    And after this, where is this data going to go?

    "Rogers declined to project how much revenue the new division might generate, although he says, "It's an important part of the overall model."

    Oh I see. If they can proove that one ad is watched more than another (given demographics) commercial prices will go up/down?
    • by evw ( 172810 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:54AM (#15784173)
      I think the bigger part of this story is that TiVo wants to change their privacy policy to collect more demagraphic info about what you're doing. i.e. your clicks won't be so anonymous any more. From the NYTimes article about this []:

      For now, TiVo will not be able to tell advertisers anything about the demographics of the audience it measures. The privacy policy of the service allows it to gather data about viewing habits, but not any personal information. Mr. Juenger [TiVo VP of Audience Research] said TiVo hoped to find a way to change that by the end of the year.

      The current TiVo Privacy Policy [] says repeatedly that all the data collected is anonymous. I guess that will have to change.

      In the end it's all about money. TiVo needs to make more money. They're trying to do more with the watching data they already collect. And they want to collect more data to make it more valuable.
      • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:28AM (#15784477) Journal
        The current TiVo Privacy Policy says repeatedly that all the data collected is anonymous. I guess that will have to change.

        Not necessarily. Sure "White males aged 18-25" is a demographic, but so is "Regular viewers of Battlestar Galactica." Arguably, the latter is a more useful demographic to TV advertisers, and it doesn't require revealing personal information.

        Of course, I have no doubts that TiVo and the scummy advertisers will look at it that way. They'll want to know age, gender, and how often you floss too, just because they're advertisers.
        • I think it's a little of both, but the industry is more concerned with the male/female, age range, and possibly the race of the viewer more than that they are a sci-fi fan. There's a limited amount of stuff to sell to sci-fi fans; certain movies might be advertised more, or video games, or even promos for other shows.

          However, gender/age/race demographics are used to sell just about everything else. Women aren't interested in the Gillette Mach X razor, and men aren't interested in "secret: strong enough fo
          • Perhaps, but you don't have to get that directly from TiVo. You already have demographics for each show. The networks provide that. So if you know that (for example) 70% of viewers of Battlestar Galactica skipped your ad, and you know that Battlestar Galactica is mostly viewed by White Males 18-25, you can do the math yourself.
      • by Intron ( 870560 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:31AM (#15784516)
        I would be happy to provide feedback to advertizers on which ads I skip, in exchange for not preventing me from skipping them. If they want me to view the ad, then they need to write better and not repeat the ad 10 times during one show.
      • If they revise the privacy policy to allow for that, I'm cancelling service. I refuse to be spied on -- TiVo was all about ME controlling my own TV experience. Now it looks as if TiVo will control what I watch.
      • The problem with collecting descrete data (versus anonymous viewer data), is that the more exact you get, the more chance you have of truly blowing it (since anyone could be watching a given TV).

        When you live in a household with three people, 1 Male, 2 Females, of various ages and interests, agregating based on the house MIGHT make sense. Agregating based on the show watched DEFINATELY makes sense.

        If my wife watches All My Children and decides to FF through the commercials, it means they are meaningless to
      • Ad profiling (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phorm ( 591458 )
        Hmmm, it might have interesting results. Maybe you could allow profiled ads so that ads for things you like (electronics, perhaps funny ads) could be shown, while skipping the annoying McDonalds or tampax ads. Better yet, let people share "ad-lists" wherein you can rate the ads and then share them with people of similar mind... some commercials are actually pretty damn funny, enough so that people collect them and send them off to friends online.
    • Why would you WANT your tivo data private? In an ad-supported model, the best thing for the networks is to have as large a sample size as possible to determine proper pricing.. and the best thing for the viewers is to be counted as accurately as possible, large samples are a benefit there as well.
      • Incrementalism...

        First they make your age and gender available to advertisers (as part of a large group - not very objectionable), but then they include race... then they narrow it down to markets. 25 year olds in NY city. Then the next thing is that the advertisers want direct marketing and Tivo gives them your name and address so they can call you (if you're not on the do-not-call list, but at least they'll start adding you to surveys to which DNC doesn't apply) or send you junk mail/email.

        If they push
    • I would think the first impact would be for advertisers to demand lower prices, since they'll be able to say that their ads aren't hitting as many eyeballs as the content providers thought they did.

      That will lead to the content providers going after the distributors (cable/satellite) to make up for the shortfall. The distributors will then pass that through to your monthly bill. The alternative there is for the networks to realize that their shows aren't really worth paying actors $100,000+ per episode, a
    • I can think of plenty times that i've started watching something on tivo and then switched off the tv to go do something else. I'm sure that counts as me having viewed the ads.

      What about the times that you are watching live tv.

      I half wonder if tivo have statistics that show them not doing much damage :)
  • by Vengeance ( 46019 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:43AM (#15784057)
    All they really need to do is report on the number of subscribers, really.

    Who in the *hell* wants to waste their time sitting in front of commercials, anyway? We put up with it from the early days of TV because once you bought the box, it was a 'free' service. Only now many (most?) of us pay, sometimes rather significant amounts of money, in order to bring a signal and service package into our homes. Why *anyone* should feel entitled to my eyes and attention in order to try and sell me on their crappy products really escapes me.
    • Why *anyone* should feel entitled to my eyes and attention in order to try and sell me on their crappy products really escapes me.
      Trust me, they don't feel entitled... they pay quite large sums of money for that privilege. Your anger is misdirected at advertisers; really, you should be angry with the people selling the airtime. They are the ones who feel entitled to sell off time that you paid for via your cable/satellite subscription.
    • by Gadgetfreak ( 97865 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:53AM (#15784161)
      I'd agree with you, but then I remember all those people who actually click on spam links and buy stuff from them.

      I think the end result will be polarized... either companies will make ads that are entertaining/amusing to watch, or TiVo will start offering premium fees for advertizers so they can make their commercial un-skippable.

      We've all seen DVDs that don't allow you to skip the previews in front of the main menu. Some actually let you fast-forward, but not skip over them. And granted, it's self-advertizing for the studio, but it's shameless enough that I'd fully expect that forced TV commercials will appear at some point in the near future.

    • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:53AM (#15784166)
      Why *anyone* should feel entitled to my eyes and attention in order to try and sell me on their crappy products really escapes me.

      Isn't capitalism in essence, really, "you are entitled to the world as long as you can pull it off"
    • I think commerical placement will become more valuable. A commerical at the beginning of a block is going to have better odds of being watched. Example: If a commerical break begins with a movie trailer, I'll usually watch the trailer before pressing the skip button.
    • many (most?) of us pay, sometimes rather significant amounts of money, in order to bring a signal and service package into our homes.

      Don't the advertisements pay just for the programming? Last I checked, our subscription pays for the cable service and as incentive for cable companies to make new channels available. What TiVo's data will essentially do is allow advertisers to have more say in how much a program's advertising time is worth (and ultimately, how long that show will last).

      • The cable company pays fees to the content providers to get their channels as part of their package. So yes, part of your monthly cable/satellite bill goes directly to the content providers for your ESPN, HGTV, TLC, etc.
    • by level_headed_midwest ( 888889 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:10AM (#15784321)
      It is the entire media industry's long-held view that they are The One And Only Way in putting information and entertainment in front of people and Their Will Must Be Done. They believe that the entire market is theirs just because and you should see only things exactly as they want you to. You've seen it from Hollywood and the recording studions in region coding, staggering DVD/VHS release times way behind theatrical showings, and the whole DRM and fighting the Internet. Television is no different- they did have the Betamax case and now since digital video recording yields perfect or near-perfect (and worlds better than tape) recordings of shows that can easily and routinely be recorded and ad-skipped, they are throwing a hissy fit. Technology has given the customers (yes, customers, we're not the slack-jawed guaranteed-market CONSUMERS they think and wish we are) the ability to modify things to our tastes. Why do you think the Net is so popular? It is because there is a lot more out there and we can influence and change it. It is time that the media realized that the viewers are customers and they're no longer the sole provider and WANT to make us watch their offerings, not try to force us to.
    • by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:33AM (#15784534) Homepage Journal

      You pay $50 a month for "basic" cable and they still dump ads on you. They make you pay for stuff that is nothing but ads (QVC, MTV).

      I have even heard ads on XM recently on the music channels. Sat radio was founded on a no-ad policy, but they are sneaking in.

      This is why projects like mythtv are important. Open source PVR technology. Problem is, next generation HDMI / Blue Ray / HD DVD won't let you save DRM material to your HD (AFAIK). You will get the broadcast HD unencrypted, but the cable will not be recordable.

      I am sure the pirates will think of something, but I want to be able to skip commercials if possible.

    • That is exactly why I have built a PC to record my TV Shows. It saves them as MPG and DiVx files. I can fast forward whatever I want and can tell CBS and everyone else to stick it. Best of all, NO viewing or tracking data is sent to ANYONE! If TiVo want's to sell Viewing data, they should make the service for the boxes FREE! ATI provides FREE TV Guide listings and software with ALL their TV Tuner products, and have done so sense the FIRST All-In-Wonder card! I hate duble dippers! "We will charge our
    • I disagree. When I had a Tivo, there were ads we liked and ones we didn't. The masterful Tivo roommates (Ken and Benjamin) would stop the full speed fast forward to watch the most brilliant or interesting ones, and then go back to skipping through the annoying ones. I mean, if you look at's movie trailer site, or Sportcenter's site, there is an interest in watching commercials. Just not ones for Bernie & Phil bickering about dinette sets.

      I think this a good idea for Tivo. If a good show had

  • Oh boy. (Score:5, Funny)

    by respyre ( 812609 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:45AM (#15784073)
    So it looks like more beer commercials, and / or scantily clad women in our future. ... I, for one, welcome our chauvinistic, alcohol-swilling, dynamically delivered advertisement overlords.
    • Re:Oh boy. (Score:5, Funny)

      by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:53AM (#15784158) Homepage Journal
      Well I for one welcome the scantily clad women.
    • Re:Oh boy. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mpath ( 555000 )
      The reason why advertisements are "chauvinistic, alcohol-swilling" and resort to scantily-clad women is that the power demographic is 18-34 male. Psychology studies have shown that when you hit age 35, you lock in on the brands you use for different "Stuff". It's up to the advertisers to get their brands in front of that market, which has also been proven to be more susceptible to those type of ads.

      Anyway, I came across that tidbit a while ago and thought it relevant and interesting... :)
  • Good (Score:3, Informative)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:45AM (#15784075) Homepage Journal
    Maybe they will wait until after dinner to run those anti-diarrhea ads. To be fair there are clever ads out there, it's just that they rarely actually make me more likely to buy something. I've made up my mind about Coke versus Pepsi, and Brittany Spears isn't changing it!
    • To be fair there are clever ads out there, it's just that they rarely actually make me more likely to buy something

      When I see a clever ad on tv (rarely), I actually enjoy watching it. And I don't mind watching it again, even if it's of a product I'd never buy. I miss the times when adds were actually informative about what they were selling, instead of selling "happiness", like almost all ads do now (maybe that time never existed and I'm imagining it). I just don't fall on that crap. I know advertisement
      • by eln ( 21727 )
        Ads in the past generally provided more information as to the benefits of a particular product, the problem is virtually all of those benefits were lies. Now, with the FTC and various consumer groups more on the lookout for false advertising, companies tend to advertise more generic, unprovable things like happiness.
        • companies tend to advertise more generic, unprovable things like happiness

          I don't know what's worse. At least if they sell you something that didn't work, you have the chances to return it and get your money back (sometimes).

          And I think I made a mistake on my post. I think the word "imagining" doesn't exist and it should be "imaginating". I'm not a natural english speaker. But I prefer correcting myself before some spelling-grammar-nazi comes :P
          • by eln ( 21727 )
            And I think I made a mistake on my post. I think the word "imagining" doesn't exist and it should be "imaginating".

            You had it right the first time. Imagining is a word, imaginating is not.
      • What could be more informative than "HeadOn: Apply directly to the forehead! HeadOn: Apply directly to the forehead! HeadOn: Apply directly to the forehead!"
  • They do. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stienman ( 51024 ) <adavis.ubasics@com> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:45AM (#15784081) Homepage Journal
    I'm kinda surprised they don't have this data already.

    They do. The difference here is that they intend to sell it to one or more third parties.

    • ...mirror it for free directly to the NSA's data warehouse -- you know, to assist in constructing the Citizen Advertising Preference Habituanalysis Profile® that is the key to defeating terror in the twenty-first century.
  • by Suzumushi ( 907838 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:47AM (#15784098)
    Do they really need to conduct a survey/study? Besides being able to time-shift your viewing, skipping commercials is what makes Tivo/DVR's worth the price... Nobody wants to see commercials, end of study. Duh.
    • Of course it's obvious people are skipping commercials, but the value here is in the information about what ads are more likely to FFed, how the timing and relevance affects the numbers, etc.
    • I own a TiVo and I skip commericals all the time. Though every once and a while a commerical will catch my eye and I'll watch it. In fact that last commerical that I liked was a VW rabbit commerical. I watched it, backed it up and called my wife into the room to see it. If TiVo can report on that kind of watching then maybe they'l have some data worth selling. In genreal, I skip commericials because the same one will be in the be shown again in the next commerical break. I feel the advertisers are fighting

  • by amrust ( 686727 ) <> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:47AM (#15784105) Homepage
    I guess I'm confused about how the TiVo units work, but I don't understand how they even plan to measure who is fast-forwarding/skipping commercials? How will they track this? Does the TiVo actually phone home with your logs of what you record/skip/rewind from the DVR? How would they filter between skipping commercials, and skipping crappy programming? Wouldn't it all look the same to TiVo?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:54AM (#15784175)
      short answer = yes to all above

      from e-2003/3.php []

      California based TiVo, the company that makes digital TV recorders, has announced that it will begin selling the data that it collects about the viewing habits of its more than 700,000 users. TiVo lets users record TV shows and play them back at different times, skip commercials, and even train their TiVo to suggest programming more likely to interest them.

      As the TiVo box connects to company servers to download programming information, it also uploads data about what users have watched and how they watched it. They can tell who watched which shows. They can tell which commercials were skipped. They can tell at what point someone got bored and start flipping channels. All of this information would be a gold mine to advertising agencies, and TiVo is about to cash in.

      As horrifying as all that sounds to people who prefer to keep their private life private, this is not as big a deal as it sounds. Unless you specifically opt into more detailed statistics gathering, all of the information is anonymous and will not used to identify your specific viewing habits.

      If you watch an old rerun of Highlander, all TiVo knows is that someone in your zip code watched it, not that you, specifically, watched it. You can even opt out of that much, if you like, by calling TiVo at 1-877-367-8486 and requesting that they opt you out of all statistical information gathering.

      What TiVo is doing is basically the same thing that early advertising spyware programs did. They log how you use the service and then send that information back to the company in order to make the advertisements presented to you more relevant and interesting. The difference between TiVo and the advertising spyware companies is that TiVo is honest and up front about it. TiVo does not simply steal the information by installing trojan-like data mining programs the way Aureate, Conducent, and others did.

      On the other hand, I would still be nervous about TiVo collecting the information even if it were anonymous. As I understand it, your viewing information is not stored along with your account's personally identifiable information only because they choose not to do so once they have it. We have only their word that they would never cross reference viewing habits with their users' account numbers.

      For that matter, who's to say that if TiVo were ever bought out, the new owner wouldn't just dive right into the data and start putting both sets of information together. That is exactly what DoubleClick tried to do when it bought marketing firm Abacus Direct.

      With the information gathered offline about consumers contained in Abacus Direct's database, DoubleClick could have identified anonymous web surfers. It was only after several class action lawsuits were filed and a few states opened investigations that DoubleClick backed down from their plans.

      I don't own a TiVo myself, but if I did, probably I would call that number and opt out entirely. Again, the telephone number to opt out of all TiVo statistical information gathering is 1-877-367-8486. e-2003/3.php []
  • by mrsbrisby ( 60242 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:49AM (#15784127) Homepage
    Why are advertisers interested in paying for ads that people aren't interested in?

    Surely, if they helped TiVO become mainstream and omnipresent, they'd be able to target their advertisement dollars better, but until they do, they're only going to know about a bunch of geeks think about their ads, not necessarily the least useful cross-section of their viewers, but probably the least forgiving.

    So why do they [the advertisers] fight TiVO every chance they get?
    • Because brand identity and recognition is important to successful marketing. Its not good enough (from a marketing perspective) to hit just the people interested in your product/brand *now*. It's important to hit the people who might be interested *later*. This is why most successful marketing campaigns are not one-ff pieces, they are often multi-year campaigns.
  • My being-a-tivo-owner understanding of their current tracking is that they can track something specifically if they know about it. For instance on some tv show promos it'll pop up a little "hit thumbs up to record" message, but only on a small few of them. The same goes for a small number of commercials, "Press thumbs up for a special deal from BowFlex". So if they know about something specifically they can track it, like the superbowl half time. So I'm guessing they don't have all this info such that t
  • Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:53AM (#15784160)
    The idea of hitting the thumb up/down buttons during commercials is a good one. I'd watch commercials just to thumb-down-bomb the annoying ones. A moderation system for commercials. I like. With feedback to the advertisers, the "you got a Dell" dude would never have gotten famous enough for me to hear reports about his dumbass drug habits. That idea alone makes this Good For Humanity.
    • I think they're much more interested in what you do watch, as measured by your skipping, rather than what you say you want to watch. Advertising is a subtle business; everybody claims to be unaffected by TV ads but ineffective ad campaigns produce losses and effective ad campaigns can be huge drivers.

      It's easy to observe in the big stuff (national ads for massive brands, Coke or Ford or McDonalds) but much harder (and no less important, to the advertisers) for smaller things: grape juice and plumbers and ti
      • I think they're much more interested in what you do watch

        I know. But it would be neat if we *could* moderate the ads.

        They know perfectly well you're going to hit "no" on essentially every ad except the occasional breast-filled beer commercial.

        Not really. I'd still bomb them as dumb. I have the Internet and cheap local whores for my fleshy thrills. I'd probably favor the funny ads. I'd also bomb stuff like car ads that try to depict driving their car as a transcendent experience. I also like straight

  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:53AM (#15784167) Journal
    If they use this information intelligently and anonymously, I don't mind.

    I watch everything via TiVo, and my wife still channel surfs conventionally but uses it a lot. Do we skip over, say, 95% of all commercials as a result? Yes. Do we wait to watch things that are on now to build up a commercial-eating buffer? Yes.

    And yet... when my co-workers talk about a commercial, I have either still seen it, or it's on a channel/timeslot I don't watch. And there are commercials that we actually go back to watch. Admittedly, most of those are "Next on Stargate!"-type commercials, but there are exceptions. There's the "your dreams are waiting for you" ad campaign going on which we think is kind of funny, and we sort of hope they turn it into a series, for instance.

    I know ad execs just see us skipping commercials, but I think the total effectiveness is about the same as ever, and for the commercials we actually go back to see, greater than ever. (Even though I'm not in the market for the sleep product.) If they use this information intelligently, I wouldn't mind it so much; it'd actually have a positive effect.

    Of course, that is one damn big if, no?

    (Oh, and de-anonymize the stats and I'll build a MythTV box. Right now it's not worth it to me, but it would be then. The recent usability test that it did well on turned my head; I've been assuming it would be the usual Open Source interface disaster.)
  • I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by algerath ( 955721 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:54AM (#15784179)
    What are they going to do when they report that 95% of the customers skip commercials and that pisses off networks/advertisers? If they try to keep them happy and mess with the ability to ff commercials I will be first in line to drop the service. That and season pass is what makes tivo so great.


  • by GGardner ( 97375 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:55AM (#15784189)
    While a sub one percent click through rate on banner ads may seem anemic, it is going to start looking a lot better once media folks realize how little their expensive TV ads are watched (and by whom). Too bad they can't count the ads that are not skipped, but not watched, either -- the only time I don't skip an ad is when I leave the room.
  • ReplayTV (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've had a ReplayTV for a few years now. It's gotten to the point where I can't stand to watch live TV... not just because of commercials, but because you can't skip past the suck that's sometimes even in good shows (a bad interview on the Daily Show, for example).

    The problem is, you actually do miss out when you don't see *any* commercials. Things like announcements of new series you might like, or two hour specials of a show you already watch. Not to mention I'd have no idea how to use HeadOn.
  • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:58AM (#15784220)
    1. Tivo tracks how many ads get skipped and by who
    2. Ad agencies know how much less the ads are worth now and demand networks lower prices because they're delivering less.
    3. Networks pull the leashes on their well paid congressional delegation to fix this with legislation.
    3. If legislation doesn't work then they pay Tivo to disable skipping the commercial, or have a special code which drops the viewer out of fast forward at the beginning of each commercial block.

    Is there any outcome of this that would be considered good? They're actually making MS Media Center look good. And driving me more and more towards building my own MythTV box.
    • "Is there any outcome of this that would be considered good?"

      Maybe we'll find out that the commercial skip rate isn't near as high as everybody imagines. "People still sit and watch the Office as soon as it's on TV." Or something like that.

      There is the potential for this to bring good news. I have a feeling the big-wigs think TiVo kills commercials entirely. If reality tells a different story, it should be logged.

    • There are certain programs I watch, but if I were forced to watch the ads, I would not watch them at all. I probably skip 95% of the ads during a program, but I do go back to watch a few of them. Also note that while fast forwarding (with TiVo), I am actually watching all of the ads, but at high speed.

      Advertisers and hardware companies should be aware of the potential unintended consequences of forcing people to watch advertising. My observation is that they would lose the marginal viewer who is sort of i
  • I understand that the advertisers would like to know, but this report is going to be ugly, IYKWIM. I for one have not watched a commercial for weeks, I only stop if I see some superhot chick or something really compelling by accident during skipping. After all, one of the major reasons people by a DVR is to be able to skip commercials. The mere assumption of advertisers that people watch more than a tiny amount of commercials after the purchase of a DVR shows how clueless they are (or maybe it's wishful thi
    • Often I stop a show and watch another, when I go back to the first show I skip to the point where I left off. They shouldn't force me to watch anything that I've seen already. And if they ever enforce people to watch commercials on something recorded, watch how fast I cancel my services and go back to seasons of shows on DVD. It's the only reason I have DVR is to watch shows at my time, and not to watch commercials.
  • I hope along with this they are gathering data on people rewinding to watch ads a second time, or coming back later just to view an ad.
  • hopeful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spykemail ( 983593 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:10AM (#15784326) Homepage
    Dear god I hope this means I can get a bunch of commercials with babes in bikinis in place of the ones about feminine hygiene someday soon. As much as I fear / despise companies collecting data on me I don't forsee advertising ceasing to exist anytime soon. If I'm going to be subjected to it I hope I get at least get some eye candy instead of, well, feminine hygiene products.

    There should be some sort of button labeled "I'm a 20-something male living alone, switch to inappropriate-for-family commercials now." on every remote.
    • Re:hopeful (Score:2, Funny)

      by evilwraith ( 911837 )
      They already make this. It's called SciFi/Comedy Central after 10pm. I've seen the Girls Gone Wild Ultimate Rush commercial roughly 138,562 times in the past month alone. It's almost enough to make you hate slutty women. Almost.
      • I'll have to check it out, but I suspect it isn't what I'm trying to descibe. I don't want pron tapes or phone sex, I just want babes in bikini advertising. You know, like 2 playgirls showcasing a cisco router (obviously an exxagerated example).
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:12AM (#15784342)
    I don't understand why they don't just offer a tier of service for those that want NO adverts whatsoever. I'm sure most of us would be happy to pay more for such a service. That way, the advertisers only reach people who WANT to be reached and the broadcaster/service provider recoups income lost from those "get lost" subscribers in the form of higher fees. That might even get me to watch "regular TV shows" again. At this juncture, TV is so pollluted with adverts that I really only get cable so I have access to a broadband internet connection and cheap phone service.

    • The old ReplayTV's (4500's and 5000's) had Commercial Advance. No silly skip or fast forward button to push, just no commercials. (they were recorder, just skipped automatically for you). To bad Replay removed that feature in later models ( the 5500 was an upgrade that basically just removed Commercial Advance, and network sharing). ReplayTV was just a little ahead of its time and got sued into oblivion for it.
    • They already have this. It is called HBO.
  • by embracethenerdwithin ( 989333 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:30AM (#15784496)
    I'm an intern at a software company that produces the software that runs the majority of cable networks. So I hav ebeen hearing a lot about this issue lately. The problem is that advertisers feel they are paying for less than they are actually getting. Which is resulting in lower demand for ads this year and also lower cost of Ads. There has been an industry wide push to get Digital Video Recorders(DVR) to count the skips so that advertisers know how many viewers they are actually getting. Tv ads are sold based on the number of eyeballs expected to watch. The network then has to make up for any discrepancy(usually issue free ad time). The issue up for debate is how to count the DVR views. The networks want all DVR downloads counted as ratings, the Advertisers don't want any counted. I think what we are seeing here is a compromise between the Networks and major advertising agencies. As much as we all hate ads, someone has to pay for the TV broadcast. Either you let the advertisers pay in exchange for watchign there crap or you pay even more to watch TV.
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:37AM (#15784566) Homepage Journal
    Dear Sir/Maam:

    According to our PVR statistics, this month you skipped 4.6 hours of televised advertising. This falls well above the nuisance threshold of 0.5 hours, and deprives our advertising customers of significant value. Accordingly, we feel compelled to refund $14.53 to them for your share of unviewed advertising. We are passing this cost along to you, along with handling, billing, and maintenance fees for a total of $17.00, which will be included in your next cable/satellite bill.

    Thank you very much,
    Your TV distribution executive
  • I get what I want,
    I get what I need,
    and that works for me
    ahhuhh, Possibilities!

    Will this tell them Taylor Hicks' 15 minutes are up?

  • when I first read "individual commercial ratings" I thought that maybe the "individual" was the person -- Tivo providing rating per person on how many ads you sit through.

    Now there is another salvo in the arms race for our attention... companies rating how compliant we are to listening to their messaging. Individualized trackable ads. hmmmm. If you are a good boy and sit quietly and listen to the ads, maybe we'll give you a nice discount on the service we got you to think you need.
  • Lost in the discussion are the responsibility of the two other providers in the content merry go round: The content producer and the advertiser. If the content providers are more reasonable about the type and quantity of ads they include, people might be less inclined to skip commercials. A single 30 second spot isn't worth reaching for the remote, but four minutes is more than enough to justify the reach. And if commercials were a bit more entertaining, AND NOT LIKE THOSE HORRIBLE OXY-CLEAN COMMERCIALS

  • It's funny that the bulk of people are always behind the curve. Media conglomerates have gone so far as to try to get PVRs legislated out of existence so people can't conveniently skip commercials. Now, they're trying to figure out which commercials get skipped, and hopefully it will lead to the truth: people do not watch commercials that are not interesting unless they are intoxicated. Well, or if they've already been lulled into a passive, receptive alpha state by their 60Hz idiot box. Hopefully we'll get away from 60Hz someday (even a lot of LCDs refresh at 60Hz, although I sincerely doubt it can have the same result as the TV; primary output is at a higher frequency than that.)

    If they read the figures correctly, I am sure that it will tell them that if commercials are entertaining and engaging, and minimally patronizing and annoying, then people will be more likely to watch them. Hopefully they will respond accordingly.

  • Regular channels show good movies every once in a while but I seldom watch because of commercials. I watch HBO and the similar channels so I don't have to see any of that crap. I almost never watch live tv because commercials waste too much of my time. At some point I started downloading tv shows and noticed that they are usually in widescreen and never have commericals. So I get a better quality item than what I can get with my DISH service.

    Tivo is great and this should help make ads better. Advertisers c

  • We'll lets see. If the program I want to see is on while I'm at work, I'll end up skipping all the ads (and the content too :-).

    But if I TiVo it, there's at least a chance I'll see some of the ads.
  • Missing the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jparker ( 105202 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:37PM (#15785070) Homepage
    I think the story summary misses the point (shocking, I know). It's not about Tivo measuring how many people skip ads, it's about measuring which ads people skip. Sure, Tivo users skip most of the ads, but there are some that they watch (I recall hearing statistics that people skip about 2/3 of the ads, but I can't cite a source). For the ad agencies that create these commercials, this information is gold. These agencies currently rely on focus groups and surveys that measure "brand recognition", but that kind of information is still very nebulous.

    Imagine you're trying to decide between two ad agencies. One shows you some statistics from these type of surveys, indicating indirectly that their ads are failry succesful. The other shows you hard numbers indicating that their ads are watched through to the end twice as often as their competitor's. That's a pretty compelling argument.

    Ad agencies can also use this data to determine which of their campaigns, art directors, or copywriters are more succesful. It's like going from profiling your app using a stopwatch to using a real profiling tool that gives you millisecond timings for individual functions. Your data are much more granular and much more direct, allowing you to really optimize your approach.

    Honestly, as long as they keep the personal information out of this, I see it as a good thing. There are certain commercials that I'm sure everyone hates, and the faster those can be identified by ad agencies and their clients, the faster they get off the air and away from my eyeballs.
  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:22PM (#15785398)
    It's a well known fact that the MPAA monitors /. so I'm talking to you.

    I quit watching cable TV and going to movie theaters since 2000.

    You want to know why?


    I am sick of more time delegated to ads and less to programs. I am sick of product placement in shows and movies. I am sick of banner ads consuming the margins of my TV. I am sick of "infomercials". I am sick of movie/show commercials disguised as "interviews". I am sick of sitting through twenty minutes of ads in a theater waiting for the movie I paid $10 to see. I am sick of paying $$$ for cable TV with more and more ads and less content as the valuable channels are pushed into upper tiers to draw more green from my wallet.

    I am not alone and this is the group that the TiVo survey will miss. I don't sub to TiVo because it offers nothing of value to me. I threw my cable TV and movies out of my house and I discovered a real world out there that reflects nothing like what Hollywood wants me to see.

    Get off the ad revenue bandwagon that floats your boat, and you will stop losing customers. It's that simple.

  • by ak_hepcat ( 468765 ) <leif@[ ] ['den' in gap]> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:35PM (#15785478) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, i read the article earlier and posted this on my blog. But whatever.

    I was just reading an article about advertisers getting all bent out of shape because folks are skipping ads like crazy on their TiVo/DVR. Well, duh! They're skipping the commercials because they've gotten so annoyingly predominant -- it's nearly to the point where it feels that you're watching more commercials than scheduled program.

    And you may be wondering what this is really about. Well, I just wanted to publish what I thought of as the next logical step in the DVR revolution. Advertisers will like it, and it wouldn't be that hard for the DVR people to code it up:

            A method of delivering advertisements to a viewer of DVR-recorded media while the viewer is fast-forwarding or fast-rewinding through advertisements or the main video program.

            1) a system for temporarily reducing the viewing size of video playback during a fast-forward or fast-rewind viewing of a pre-recorded or cached video program or advertisement
            2) a method of receiving encoded information within an advertisement, or main video program
            3) a method of decoding the received information into:
            3a) textual information, to be displayed to the viewer,
            3b) linkage information, to be displayed as a shortcut, or hyperlink, in order to view more information,
            3c) or, additional information such as (but not limited to) short musical phrases or small graphical icons
            4) a system for overlaying text and graphics as received into the screen space vacated by claim 1.

            Advertisers and television execs are increasingly frustrated by the ability of a viewer to skip over their ads, reducing the take rate for said services. This patent would allow an advertiser to make sure that their message was still being seen by a "tivo-ised" audience, by simultaneously reducing the screen real-estate available to video playback during fast-forward, or fast-reverse; then displaying textual and graphical information into the newly-created blank space.

            This would allow targeted advertisements within a broadcast program to appear while a user is fast-forwarding or fast-rewinding through the program (as they might in order to catch-up to where they had left off in a previous viewing). This would also allow an alternate method of viewing the intra-program advertisements during the so-called "ad-skip" fast-forward.

    Well, I tried to draft it up like a patent. And now it's published. Really, it's the next logical step, and hopefully advertisers will come flocking to my door wanting to use my invention. And I'll be rich! Muahahah!

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.