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TiVo to Measure Ad-Skipping

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-doubt-very-shocking-results-forthcoming dept.


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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counting how many skip ads (5, Funny)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784037)

I hope they use a doubleint.

Re:counting how many skip ads (2, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784129)

I hope they use a doubleint.

Correct, the Doublemint twins are one of the only reasons ads are worth watching.

Re:counting how many skip ads (2, Funny)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784340)

You like those two guys in the Dockers and cardigans? Ewww. Oh, you meant the two cute chicks on the bikes they were trying to hook up with. Ok. Gotcha. ;)

Re:counting how many skip ads (1)

hpavc (129350) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784386)

Wonder if skipping a while, lets say first 30min of a show to show the last part of of a show to someone counts all the commercials you skipped.

Re:counting how many skip ads (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784325)

Might want to use unsigned long doubles since I doubt there are going to be a few negative people skipping.

Re:counting how many skip ads (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784334)

Signed or unsigned?

Re:counting how many skip ads (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784573)

should be signed. They need to subtract one from the total every time a Victoria's secret (her secret: she's a slut! har har) commercial is watched more than once. The number could go negative.

Fine (-1, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784040)

Don't watch TV, it's making you even stupider.
What about demonstrating against Bush Middle East politics ?
Fuckers !

Isn't Tivo hardware based spyware ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784045)

by the way it tracks every single input and button press on the unit and then sells that information to the higest bidder

i wonder if there are any hacks to disable all this logging

Re:Isn't Tivo hardware based spyware ? (1, Funny)

jmelloy (460671) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784404)

Sure, if "Would you like TiVo to send anonymized data?" with a yes/no answer is a hack. Prove how l33t you are. Get on that shit.

Whats the Motive? (4, Interesting)

lecithin (745575) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

A: Profit!!! TiVo wants/needs more of it. (5, Insightful)

evw (172810) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 [nytimes.com] :

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 [tivo.com] 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.

Re:A: Profit!!! TiVo wants/needs more of it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784314)

If the data were no longer anonymous, we could have a contest to see who maintains a 100% (or closest to it) advertisement avoidance. Think of the thrills, the drama... They could even make a reality TV show out of it.

Disclaimer: I FF through 100% of commercial crap.


Re:A: Profit!!! TiVo wants/needs more of it. (3, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784477)

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.

Re:A: Profit!!! TiVo wants/needs more of it. (2, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784590)

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 for a man, made for a women," and some ages aren't certainly appropriate for advertisements from your local tattoo parlor.

In other words, age and gender are a lot more valuable.

Re:A: Profit!!! TiVo wants/needs more of it. (4, Interesting)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Whats the Motive? (2, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784359)

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.

Re:Whats the Motive? (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784429)

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, and hit them in the pocketbook...

Re:Whats the Motive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784444)

How can someone use the word "mafic" in their sig, and not know the proper spelling of the word "prove"?

I assume you're a dyslexic geologist?

Unless Tivo already know the results (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784567)

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 :)

This won't take very long (5, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:This won't take very long (1)

Cap'nPedro (987782) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784106)

Well you don't look like a /. subscriber...?

I guess you must get your internet access for free then because /. has ads on it and I *KNOW* that you visit Slashdot...

Re:This won't take very long (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784151)

I don't see most Internet ads, I block them all. I don't pay attention to the ads that I do see (like the google text ads.)

Re:This won't take very long (2, Interesting)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784185)

Difference is that /. ads tend to be somewhat relevant (I'm looking at a Dice ad right now vs watching comercials to sell me birth control when I'm watching Battlestar Galactica). Also as a sidenote many here use adblocking software. I use it, but /. adverts aren't intruseive enough to make me want to set /. specific rules.

Re:This won't take very long (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784155)

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.

Re:This won't take very long (4, Insightful)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:This won't take very long (3, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#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"

Re:This won't take very long (2, Interesting)

grimwell (141031) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784172)

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.

Re:This won't take very long (1)

Techguy666 (759128) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784194)

...now 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).

Re:This won't take very long (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784283)

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.

Re:This won't take very long (0)

tbannist (230135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784287)

As I understand it "cable service" does in fact pay for the "just the service" with a large, tasty profit margin for the cable company. Shows are produced by production houses who are generally funded by the networks who provide content to the cable services. The cable companies don't, generally, pay the stations for content, stations get their money by selling advertising time. So any time you're charged a fee for additional channels (barring payTV channels that have no commericals), you're being charged to change a filter. The monthly fee for those additional channels is 100% profit for the cable company.

Re:This won't take very long (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784339)

No, a decent percentage of what you pay monthly goes to the networks. In particular certan networks like ESPN, Lifetime, and Disney get $1 or more each per subscriber per month. Those three networks alone are part of the reason for the rate hike DirecTV had months ago. Other networks get much lower, maybe in the 20/30 cent range per subscriber.

Re:This won't take very long (4, Insightful)

level_headed_midwest (888889) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:This won't take very long (1)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784491)

Oh please. You pay the cable company to deliver the signal. The ads are designed to pay for the content.

And while many ads are crap and of zero interest to me - feminine hygiene products, for example - there are ads that make me laugh, and there are ads that actually provide information to me, such as a new restaurant opening or a movie trailer. Now if this technology could be used to find out what type of ads interest me, and the whole broadcasting team - TiVo, cable, and the networks - could work together so that only ads that are likely to entertain or interest me show up - well, then, that would make the whole thing work better, wouldn't it?

Of course, you do have the choice of watching subscription only services like HBO today. But that's rather expensive for many. I don't mind putting up with a few commercials to watch South Park for free.

Re:This won't take very long (3, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784596)

As the technology evolves you will start getting personally directed ads:

"Hello, Fred Pilfner. Are you bothered by your excessive back hair? Based on her Yahoo! searches, your wife is! Try our new product ...."

Happy now?

Re:This won't take very long (3, Interesting)

gatzke (2977) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784534)

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.

Re:This won't take very long (2, Interesting)

TavisJohn (961472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784578)

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 customers to get tv listings, AND we will charge the TV Stations for the viewer data we collect from our boxes. Mwahahahahahah!"

Re:This won't take very long (3, Insightful)

RandomGuySteve (889617) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784605)

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 Apple.com'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 all genuinely good commercials (My favorite - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh97oYCJ-Ok [youtube.com] ), I'd only skip things if I wanted to watch 2 hours of TV in one hour of time. In my deluded fantasies, commercials will get better when they see this research.

Oh boy. (5, Funny)

respyre (812609) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Good (2, Informative)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784075)

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!

Re:Good (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784192)

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 should provoke you to buy the product, or at least have it on your mind when you go buy stuff, but some of them are just too offensive to my intellect.

Re:Good (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784454)

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.

Re:Good (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784558)

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

Re:Good (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784630)

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.

ABC (1)

another_fanboy (987962) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784077)

With ABC trying to prevent fast-forwarding through commercials, it seems a bit pointless to keep track how many have been skipped.

Chan Up/Down (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784270)

Yeah, since I don't think TiVo would be able to interpret when you change the channel, turn off the TV, mute the volume and open a book or otherwise get around these stupid restrictions as skipping ads. :)

They do. (4, Insightful)

stienman (51024) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784081)

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.


Re:They do. (1)

sonofagunn (659927) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784225)

They track this data already based on time. That's how they could provide data on the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction - because they knew exactly when and on what channel that happened.

I doubt TiVo knows exactly what time commercials are telecast (and on which stations). They are probably pulling in that data from an external source. Then they can match it up with their TiVo data to find out which commercials have been skipped and how much they've been skipped.

Re:They do. (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784422)

Next they'll sell the news shows how many people are skipping through their weather or cute kitten stories. The hard part is identifying what is on the air at any given moment, although that can be pushed off on the customer by detecting times when many people are skipping (or repeating) and just reporting the time periods (leaving it to the TV staff to figure out what they were showing).

Re:They do. (1)

schwinn8 (982110) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784436)

Exactly... they can see how many times you have skipped during the show, but without knowing when a commercial starts and stops, it's hard to say what the viewer was actually skipping (or not skipping). The Superbowl nipslip event was probably manually "interpreted" to see when during the show this happened. Doing this manually for all the shows on all the networks would hurt. Looks like they now have automation to do this for them.

Blatantly obvious to even the most casual observer (4, Insightful)

Suzumushi (907838) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Blatantly obvious to even the most casual obser (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784366)

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.

How will they even DO this? (3, Interesting)

amrust (686727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784105)

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?

Re:How will they even DO this? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784175)

short answer = yes to all above

http://www.spywareinfo.com/newsletter/archives/jun e-2003/3.php [spywareinfo.com]

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.

http://www.spywareinfo.com/newsletter/archives/jun e-2003/3.php [spywareinfo.com]

Computers - lots of computers... (1)

Yardboy (742224) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784445)

I seem to remember something about there being a flag in the TV signal that identifies commercials, but my quick search brings up nothing related to that. I did, however, find this nugget on Nielsen's site...

Identifying commercials Although there are many TV programs, there are even more commercials. Keeping track of what commercials are on TV is another service provided by Nielsen Media Research. Using a special passive TV signal identification technology, commercials on TV stations are continuously monitored and converted into a digital "fingerprint". These fingerprints are then compared to a computer file of fingerprints from thousands of different commercials and automatically identified whenever possible (which is about 95% of the time). The other 5% of the time, videotapes of unmatched commercials are sent to a central office to be viewed and properly credited. This information is used to produce reports detailing when and where TV commercials actually aired.

http://www.NielsenMedia.com/WhatRatingsMean [nielsenmedia.com]

Re:How will they even DO this? (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784211)

With very simple math. Say your watching Eureaka yesterday at 9pm. They ask your local scifi broadcaster at what timepoints the comercials were on; they get thier data from the broadcaster; they overlay your data of skipping onto thier timeing for the advertisements and whalah you got a pretty pie chart.

"I'd consider providing feedback (thumbs-up/down)" (3, Interesting)

mrsbrisby (60242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784127)

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?

Re:"I'd consider providing feedback (thumbs-up/dow (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784257)

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.

Current Tracking (1)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784139)

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 they could do it, until now.

Poor Man's TiVo (1)

butterwise (862336) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784140)

I skip the commercials by leaving the room; have developed quite a sixth-sense/phenomenal internal 2 min. timer.

Re:Poor Man's TiVo (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784290)

I welcome the commercials when my bladder is about to explode :P. And I take the time to disturb my boyfriend-on-the-computer if I'm at his apartment :P (my computer is at my house, so whenever he's using his, I only have the tv option hehehe)

Actually... (4, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Actually... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784483)

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 tires. That means selling you stuff you're not going to jump up and down and say, "Yeah, I want that!"

They know perfectly well you're going to hit "no" on essentially every ad except the occasional breast-filled beer commercial. If they actually believed that they wouldn't bother advertising.

If they use it intelligently, I don't mind (4, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784167)

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.)

reduce the cost of advertisement (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784178)

> Overall this is expected to reduce the cost of advertisements on television

Well, reduce the overall cost of adverts, but increase the cost of the first 3 seconds of the first advert to compensate for the fact that that's about as much of them anyone's likely to see.

If they make it impossible to skip ads I'll simply dump the whole show onto a PC and skip the ads there. I'm sure a standard that allows users to download an advert template for a given broadcast of a show would very quickly turn up and allow automatic skipping.

Maybe advertisers could fund the development of the shows instead, and make their money back from backing popular programs? Who knows - perhaps the advertisers will then be associated with some form of good, instead of being responsible for those annoying breaks in your entertainment?

I don't like it (3, Insightful)

algerath (955721) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.


Re:I don't like it (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784345)

Make commercials more watchable, and less Family Guy-style "Wacky inflatable arm-flailing tube-man" ads. I don't need another crappy Swiffer duster ad, or another washed-out feel-good ad about the vast superiority of Bounty vs. other leading brands. Make me a commercial that I want to see and I'll stop skipping ads.

Good examples include the transformer Peugeot ad, that one I never tire of. Series ads that form a small narrative are also worth a chuckle, and probably won't be skipped too often. Give me TEH FUNNAY in my ads and I'll watch 'em.

Will make internet ads look good (2, Insightful)

GGardner (97375) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Will make internet ads look good (1)

gravy.jones (969410) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784289)

I have to remind my buddies that when they pause the TV program and go get a beer or a smoke that when they get back, hit play and hit the first commercial that they can fast forward through it. It took 50 years for the American society to get programmed with the idea that we have to watch commercials or we might miss something in our program. It will take some time to unlearn that habit.

ReplayTV (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784203)

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.

Re:ReplayTV (4, Funny)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784407)

HeadOn - apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn - apply directly to the forehead. HeadOn - apply directly to the forehead. (that's as much as the postercomment compression filter would allow me).

Benefits for subscribers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784218)

Considering the value of this information, it would be nice if the monthly cost of the TiVo service were reduced for subscribers as a result.

Let's break this down.... (4, Interesting)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Let's break this down.... (2, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784620)

"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.

I am not a tivo user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784253)

I am not a tivo user but I thought the point of tivo was to skip commercials. Doesn't it already skip commercials automatically? I have a mythtv setup here and i know i can set it to automatically skip commercials (what it thinks are commercials).

No good will come from this (1)

teutonic_leech (596265) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784267)

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 thinking).

Re:No good will come from this (2)

nickyj (142376) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784606)

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.

Measuring repeated ads? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784274)

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.

Time for a sea change in advertising (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784324)

I predict that the marketing geniuses will soon introduce the 5 minute long commercial, filmed completely in slow-motion, to combat this assault on their business model.

hopeful (3, Insightful)

spykemail (983593) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784326)

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 (2, Funny)

evilwraith (911837) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784468)

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.

Advert free service... (2, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.


Re:Advert free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784400)

It's been stated before that this doesn't work, because it's the people with the extra expendable income whom the advertisers WANT to reach. By pulling them out of the viewing pool, you've effectively decreased the potential profit return of the advert.

Re:Advert free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784547)

What's funny is that the BBC provides 5 ad-free channels (plus some stuff no-one watches like BBC Parliament) and tons of ad-free radio for a pretty similar price to a cable subscription. This is with an almost-captive market of 60 million people, so a 20% subscription rate in the US could easily do the same.
It's a shame that so much of their non-news programming is rubbish about home decorating, really :(

Re:Advert free service... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784616)

That would screw up all the timeslots. I don't know if you've noticed, but most network and basic cable TV shows are only actually 15-20 minutes long. If they got rid of adverts, they'd have nothing to fill that time with.

This is why I like HBO. Their half hour shows are exactly that, 30 minutes of uninterupted television.

i hate commercials ! (1)

dvst8 (610829) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784348)

i dont care what commercial is on the tube, i WILL skip it!, i'll wait 15-20 minutes into a show just so i can skip all the freggin commercials !!!!!!!

Questionable Timing (0)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784358)

Why would they roll this out during the Summer rerun season? My TiVos are sitting practically idle, only just now picking up new episodes on Sci-Fi Channel, one anime episode a week on Cartoon Network, and recording The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Réport, and they're accumulating unwatched.

Instead I'm finally getting through a backlog of unwatched DVDs, and not via the TiVo with the DVD drive.

Dynamic Ads Will Be the Death of Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784365)

Guys, make sure not to skip everything except scantily clad woman and beer commercials. She may come home one night only to find that every commercial break has nothing but scantily clad women during her tivo'd sex and the city or grey's anatomy commercial breaks!

IF (1)

nephillim (980798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784425)

Anon stats, not a problem.
IF that then pisses off network admins and they disable fast forward, or put small commercials INTO the fast forward...
... I will find myself at dealdatabase and other such sites waiting for the smart people to disable that "feature" for me.
hacking the tivo was once worth it to get a lot of extra functionality out of the box. Tivo saw this and build almost everything I wanted into the software (eventually) so I un-hacked it and have been running for quite a while (other than LARGE hd)... but mess with the ad skip (Select play select 30 select) and it will be re-hacked REALLY quick.

if we know for sure it's coming ahead of time the update can be blocked too... This should be watched very closely

Whats really going on (5, Informative)

embracethenerdwithin (989333) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

How are they going to pull this off? (1)

niteHawk337 (991167) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784515)

"Data will include the number of people who saw the spot and when it was viewed. " If I Tivo something and never watch it, will that count as being viewed? If I am watching something live, will that count? How about when the TV is off, but the Tivo is recording? How will they know if I am actually sitting in front of it? What about the second Tivo that I have that isn't even hooked up to a TV, just used to catch the oddball programs that conflict (pre DT Tivo)? Seems like this is another case of the data being able to support any story you want to tell...

And here is this month's TV bill (5, Funny)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#15784566)

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

Program sponsorship screens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15784586)

The program sponsorship screens that appear at the start and end of commercial breaks are surely going to go up in price though.

When watching the last season of CSI on Five (a UK channel) it was sponsored by a company called Toucan (a telco I'd never even heard of prior to watching CSI). However because I used my DVR to skip the ad breaks - I used the toucan clips to figure out when I needed to switch back to normal speed playback. Normally I overshoot a little at 64x FFWD and have to go back and end up watching those sponsor clips everytime though - so the impact of only being hit with that brand and no other advertising through the course of a program - must make those sponsorship screens increasingly valuable in a world where hard disk recorders are taking off fast.
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