US digital video recorder pioneer TiVo is partnering with major media-buying firms to allow viewers to search for specific television commercials.

The company, which has sent a frisson of fear through the advertising and media industries because it offers ad skipping technology, has teamed with Interpublic Media, OMD and Starcom MediaVest, among others, to offer a service where TiVo users can choose which ads to match their interests.

Says president and ceo Tom Rogers: "We're flipping the dynamic. If you are in the market for a product, and you have no idea when commercials related to that kind of product are going to appear, it doesn't help you very much."

Subscribers will be able to set up a profile of products on their TV screens by clicking on categories such as automotive or travel, or typing in keywords relating to a specific brand of car or type of holiday.

The service will then download relevant commercials to TiVo DVRs over the internet or via traditional broadcast signals. The commercials will appear on-screen in a folder next to the list of television shows TiVo users record.

Advertisers will be able to select the keywords and categories with which they wish to be associated for their ads.

TiVo is talking with ad agencies about the best way to price these ads, but one option is to let advertisers bid on keywords as they do when buying ads on internet search engines [WAMN: 25-Nov-05]

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff