TiVo - the bane of TV ad executives and their agency counterparts because of its facility to allow users of the digital video-recorder to skip automatically through ad breaks - is poised to become advertiser-friendly.
Up to a point.
The Alviso, California-headquartered company will this week introduce 'ad tags' - onscreen symbols that identify advertisers during commercial breaks. Such symbols will be clearly visible, even when a viewer is fast-forwarding through the commercials.
Ad tags can be sponsored by marketers, and this week will make their debut to viewers of the WB Television Network . They will appear as branded popups in otherwise standard commercials for General Motors' auto brands OnStar, GMC, Chevrolet and Saturn.
The popups invite consumers to view special promotional footage or request additional information directly from GM, simply by pressing a few buttons on the remote handset.
"This is an important growth area for TiVo. These sorts of products are what will get us there," evangelizes TiVo's director of advertising and research sales Kimber Sterling.
And signing off his own commercial break, Sterling adds: "TiVo's enhanced advertising functions will let it accommodate more advertisers."
However, analysts, a notoriously skeptical breed, are less than enthused by TiVo's new service. Pointing out that ad-skipping is precisely the reason most people go for TiVo in the first place, they argue that persuading viewers to download ads will be an uphill struggle - by comparison with which Sisyphus had it easy.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff