Archives For Advertising

5 phones walk into a bar…

Dave Zatz —  September 6, 2012 — 5 Comments

In case you missed it, a gaggle of smartphones was introduced yesterday — a trio of Motorola RAZR Android devices, and a pair of Nokia Windows Phone Lumia handsets. And they generally look pretty good (although it is somewhat perplexing that a Google-owned company can’t deliver the latest Google software). But without a single release date in sight, you have to wonder if these showy displays were simply meant to head off Apple’s iPhone 5 announcement next week.

From Moto’s press release

  • “available before the holidays”
  • “More details on timing and pricing will be made close to availability dates.”

From Nokia’s press release

Both phones will be available in pentaband LTE and HSPA+ variants and are expected to start shipping in select markets later in the year. Nokia will announce pricing and specific roll-out dates country by country when sales are due to begin.

Compare that to Apple’s likely approach of providing international pre-orders along with their product unveiling. Of course, being first to market doesn’t make you best. Just ask Apple who was arguably late to the smartphone party. But it seems no other company is in their league when it comes to launching a product. Continue Reading…

auto-hop

DISH Network has rolled out an update to their well received Hopper DVR that, among other things, seems to respond directly to broadcaster concerns of an unlicensed on demand service that has led to a multitude of lawsuits.

If you recall, the Hopper incorporates a consumer friendly Prime Time Anytime feature to automate the recording of prime time network programming, with shows retained 8 days. Building upon that functionality, DISH then introduced Auto Hop commercial skip functionality… which, of course, the broadcasters did not respond well to.

To possibly head off or limit the pending legal action, DISH has tweaked both these services to require a bit more user interaction and to enable more granular control. Continue Reading…

dark-knight-tivo-3

While TiVo rarely generates positive cash flow via DVR subscribers, they’re sitting on a healthy war chest via patent litigation victories. So why not drop $20 million cash on New York-based TRA to expand their media research services (and patent portfolio)? From the announcement:

TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), a leader in the advanced television entertainment market, today announced that it has agreed to acquire TRA, Inc., maker of the first and leading platform with the world’s largest database that directly links information from the same households as to what viewers watch with what they buy. TRA matches television exposures from 1.5 million TV homes with specific purchase transactions. The acquisition is expected to create a powerful combination of insights that will offer the TV advertising industry Internet-level measurement and accountability accelerating TiVo’s position in the billion dollar television analytics business.

According to the New York Times, TRA has had “27 cable and broadcast networks and 45 different advertising brands” on their roster during its five year existence (yet it’s not clear how many are still in play). T.R.A. originally resolved into “The Right Audience” … but will conveniently morph into “TiVo Research and Analytics” when the deal closes later this month. Interestingly, the Times pegs TiVo as a “television analytics company” — which is a bit like calling Apple an iPod company. Yet ,TiVo had been an investor in TRA and presumably the company will find synergies among the new and existing audience measurement tools (like Stop|Watch) along with their respective client rosters.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Continue Reading…

I’ve been dreading this day since I first got my ReplayTV in 2001. Time Warner Cable has earned a patent for a method of disabling trick-mode features on DVRs. The tech lets Time Warner block fast forwarding so recorded programming (i.e. commercials) can’t be skipped over.

Time Warner patent prevention of trick mode DVR features

Although the patent was filed back in 2007, the timing of its issue is interesting in light of the new Dish commercial-skipping feature in the Hopper DVR. The broadcast networks have gone lawsuit-happy over the Hopper, and Time Warner’s patent shows them that the cable company wants to back them up. Of course, the desire to block commercial-skipping features, and actual deployment of the technology are two different things. As Steve Donahue points out at Fierce Cable, the likely backlash against such a move by Time Warner would likely have the MSO back-pedaling as fast as it did four years ago when it first tried to institute bandwidth caps. Unfortunately, as with bandwidth caps, even if Time Warner fails at first, that doesn’t mean it won’t try and try again. Continue Reading…

TiVo’s previously provided their advertisers and partners the ability to sell products to us DVR subscribers, but come this fall instead of mailing an invoice, linking an Amazon account, or sending the Dominos guy, they’ll now be able to complete transactions via PayPal:

TiVo Inc. and PayPal announced they have teamed up to provide TiVo users with the ability to purchase products featured in interactive advertisements on the TiVo user interface through PayPal, the faster, safer way to pay. This integration creates a new opportunity for advertisers and brands to connect with TiVo users and to turn their 30-second spots and interactive TiVo ad placements into actionable purchasing opportunities through a one-time account link.

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come. While The Next Web touts this as “frictionless” TV shopping via remote, I’d say PayPal is anything but. More pointedly, I’m not convinced there’s a significant audience that will purchase products or services in this manner… and don’t imagine TiVo’s prior partner campaigns of this nature fared well. But, hey, maybe I’m wrong. And advertising will become so successful that they’ll follow in Amazon’s Kindle footsteps by offering a TiVo Premiere With Special Offers that does away with recurring service fees. It’s worth a shot!

tivo-developer-channel

As TiVo ramps up their Platform Sofware Development Kit (SDK), it appears they’ve settled on a logo and name. As described by TiVo Art Director Trevor Dubbert:

This logo mark for the TiVo Developer Channel is a branding project to promote the creation of third party software apps.

The TiVo Premiere didn’t actually live up to its original “One Box” billing, but the addition of features like Xfinity On Demand and a solid stable of updated apps could shift the balance. And Megazone reports TiVo’s new SDK program is on track to launch “this fall” – driven by a full time employee.

As to the logo itself, Trevor says:

In discussions with TiVo’s Product Manager, we came up with the idea of representing the brand name with binary code. The logo’s silhouette shape helps it to be recognizable as TiVo. With the lines of code it gives a nod to software developers who understand how to read binary.

While some may find the binary code representation of “TiVo” a tired play, investor Sam Biller (who dug up this story!) thinks it looks pretty good and I have to say that branding the program is a positive development, boding well for TiVo and their customers.

Less than two weeks after DISH Network announced their clever and automated, albeit limited, commercial skip functionality Fox, NBC, and CBS have filed suit for copyright infringement and breach of contract:

[Fox] were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, DISH Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television.

NBC has filed suit against this unlawful service in order to keep over-the-air broadcast television a strong competitor. Advertising generates the revenue that makes it possible for local broadcast stations and national broadcast networks to pay for the creation of the news, sports and entertainment programming that are the hallmark of American broadcasting. Dish simply does not have the authority to tamper with the ads from broadcast replays on a wholesale basis for its own economic and commercial advantage.

This service takes existing network content and modifies it in a manner that is unauthorized and illegal. [CBS] believe this is a clear violation of copyright law and we intend to stop it.

Of course, no one should be surprised by this highly likely development. What remains unknown is if DISH will be forced to remove the feature from their flagship whole-home Hopper DVR or if they might work out some sort of On Demand-esque licensing.

Coincidentally, DISH & Roku just partnered… and Roku’s CEO Anthony Wood happened to found ReplayTV — who was similarly attacked by the broadcasters about a decade ago for implementing commercial skip. So perhaps he had some advice for DISH CEO Joe Clayton as they prepared their own preemptive legal strike today against ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC:

DISH today filed suit against ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in federal court for a declaratory judgment on questions that have arisen related to the pay-TV provider’s May 10 introduction of a user-enabled commercial skipping technology called AutoHop. DISH’s monthly subscriber fees include significant “retransmission fees” that DISH pays to the major networks. Although the broadcasters have made much of their content available for free using sites such as Hulu, they have continued to demand substantial increases in their retransmission fees. In addition to increasing media reports of planned legal action against DISH, three of the networks — CBS, Fox and NBC – have rejected ads for DISH’s Hopper Whole-Home DVR, the device that features the AutoHop function.