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    Home > Marketing

    TiVo Tracks Ad Viewing


    The TiVo personal video recorder makes it easy to view your favorite TV shows at a time that's convenient for you. The computerized TV recorder also makes it easy for the analysts at TiVo's headquarters to learn about how their viewers interact with their TiVo and their television.

    What they've found is surprising advertisers and their ad agencies. For example, commercials in shows with high ratings are watched less (30%) than commercials in shows with small audiences (78%).

    What makes this research so important is that advertisers and the TV networks now have a way to monitor actual viewing behavior in real-world situations. Traditionally, TV audiences are measured by having a few hundred families write down in a diary the names of the programs they watched. The problem with the diary method isn't the size of the sample — it's the quality of the data written in the diaries. The raw diaries contain batches of entries made from memory at the end of the day — or the next day — instead of entered as each program is watched.

    TiVo is using the same technique that we've used to manage personalized Web sites for years — match observed behavior to individual profile data to gain an understanding of what people actually want. A few years ago it was thought that Web personalization would be able to use data about what other customers had purchased to guess correctly what a certain customer would like to see. Instead, Web personalization has proved to be more valuable by helping marketers correlate Web and e-mail behavior to profile data to see how each market segment learns about and purchases their products.

    Forrester Research expects TiVo type devices to be in 30 million households in 2006, which will give consumer goods advertisers and TV producers insights into the programs and products viewers desire.

    In the meantime, you can gain insights into exactly what appeals to your best customers today by using personalized Web and e-mail marketing as part of an integrated marketing and sales strategy.


    Cliff Allen is the co-author of the book One-to-One Web Marketing; 2nd Ed., published by John Wiley & Sons, and has consulted with companies on strategic marketing for 20 years.

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