TiVo LogoTiVo is collaborating with several advertising firms to create searchable, downloadable commercials. The technology will be similar to the existing TiVo Wishlists in that you specify keywords or categories of products and services you’re interested in. When TiVo matches your criteria, the ad is recorded or downloaded via broadband and added to a folder in the Now Playing list. This feature is expected to launch Spring 2006.

As long as the ads remain voluntary and unobtrusive, I’m all in favor of TiVo generating additional revenue. Though, as Om Malik suggests, TiVo’s continued push into advertising presents a business opportunity for another DVR maker to market itself as the anti-ad platform. Is there is a manufacturer brave enough to bring back ReplayTV’s commercial skip?

TiVo says: TiVo Inc., the creator and a leader in advertising solutions and television services for digital video recorders (DVRs), today announced that it plans to offer the first television-based advertising search solution in Spring 2006. Leveraging TiVo’s television search capabilities that enhance the TV viewing experience, the new product will deliver relevant, targeted advertising to subscribers that want to view particular advertising categories.

The heightened viewer experience that the new offering is intended to provide will deliver non-intrusive, relevant, interactive advertising, on a opt-in basis. TiVo subscribers, if they choose to use the search capability, will retain control over their viewing experience through the creation of a viewer contributed profile via the set-top box that will enable them to receive advertisements based on their interests.

“The new TiVo application will provide both a needed platform for consumers to seek out relevant, searchable commercial content and an environment for advertisers to engage highly desirable and motivated consumers,” said Tracey Scheppach, Vice President, Video Innovations Director at Starcom, a division of Starcom MediaVest Group. “It’s the first of its kind in the industry, and a platform that is clearly needed in this challenging advertising marketplace.”

Inside TiVo Rebates

Dave Zatz —  November 27, 2005 — 1 Comment

TiVo LogoIt’s no secret that rebates are a great tool for a variety of retailers and manufacturers. Rebates generate buzz and sales, yet not all are redeemed adding to their bottom line. BusinessWeek (subscription required) describes the phenomenon and profiles TiVo, which appears typical in paying out only 50% to 60% of potential rebates. BW suggests rebates are a “tax on the disorganized” but a “bonanza to retailers and suppliers.”

The article mentions one frustrated TiVo customer who felt he was given the run-around before finally receiving his rebate check 14 weeks after submission. In fact, the gist of the article is that many consumers are frustrated by the difficulty of rebate redemptions and that regulators are getting involved.

Of the five TiVo’s I’ve owned, two came with rebates which were received within the specified time frame.

BusinessWeek says: The impact on a company’s bottom line can be startling. Consider TiVo Inc. The company caught Wall Street off guard by sharply reducing its first-quarter loss to $857,000, from $9.1 million in the same period last year. One reason: about 50,000 of TiVo’s 104,000 new subscribers failed to redeem mail-in rebate offers, reducing the company’s expected rebate expense by $5 million. TiVo says it generally sees lower redemption rates during the Christmas shopping season, when consumers may be too distracted to file for rebates on time.

Netflix has begun incorporating third-party advertising onto their envelopes. Beginning last week, DVDs to certain customers in certain geographic regions were targeted with a Memoirs of a Geisha ad and this week Aeon Flux arrived at my door step. Also this week, I participated in an online customer survey specific to that envelop flap.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this. I don’t know why Netflix hasn’t incorporated full-flap advertising sooner. As stated below, perhaps they needed to reach a “critical mass” of customers before they could enlist big-league sponsors. Not all advertising is bad. In many cases it can offset fees… perhaps this new revenue stream accounts for Netflix lowering subscription rates.

Unlike other mailings I receive, the ad is nicely incorporated into the actual envelope instead of troubling me with additional inserts to trash. Presenting advertising without alienating customers is a bit like walking a tightrope. The current method strikes me as a win-win endeavor. However, the moment ads start appearing in my email or interfere with browsing the Netflix website I’ll feel differently.

Brandweek says: “Netflix ships one million DVDs a day,” said Netflix spokesperson Ken Ross. “Testing ad vehicles makes sense now that our subscriber base has reached real critical mass with 3.6 million customers currently and more than five million projected for next year.” Netflix said it plans to roll out more advertising and will consider selling various ad placements—on envelopes, on its Web site, in customer e-mails. The company expects to rotate creative on a weekly basis and in some cases feature multiple movie properties at the same time in a targeted manner.

More TiVoToGo iPod, PSP Details

Dave Zatz —  November 23, 2005 — 2 Comments

Like most folks, I’m excited by TiVo’s recent announcement of upcoming support for both the iPod and PSP. So I had to find out more… I hit up Bob Poniatowski of TiVo Product Marketing, who shared a few more details of the project with me.

The new syncing, conversion, and watermarking features will be built into a future release of the TiVo Desktop. TiVo Desktop downloads will continue to be free, as will current functionality. However, the iPod and PSP enhancements are dormant options that can be activated through purchase. Many folks have wondered about the “low cost” and “small fee” that keeps showing up in print… Instead of using the free ffmpeg to perform conversions, as Videora and others do, the fee will partialy cover licensing of the commercial codec TiVo is using to perform the heavy lifting. They have no plans of bundling the TiVo-branded media player, first seen during TiVo Desktop 2.1 beta testing, into this release.

As previously reported, beta testing of the new software is expected to begin shortly with a target release of February.

Dave’s Holiday Cheer: Freebies!

Dave Zatz —  November 23, 2005

One kind reader blessed me with a TiVo Rewards referral. I’ve taken that reward and cashed it in for 15 TiVo ornaments that I’d like to share with my readers. After all, it is the holiday season.

Comment on any post old or new 11/23 through 12/7 and you’ll be entered to win a few of these guys in a random drawing – at least three lucky people will be selected. While thoughtful comments are appreciated, there are no restrictions other than please keep the spam and profanity to a minimum. Though, you should let me know somewhere within the comment that you want to participate – I don’t want to contact someone without their permission, dig? The comment box lets you enter your email address which is kept private and will not be shared, so double-check it for typos before you submit.

If the winners choose to pose their little TiVo friends frolicking on a Christmas tree, Chanukah bush, or fruit cake I’ll gladly post any photos and links.

The recap…

  1. Comment on any post
  2. Indicate you want to be entered to win
  3. Leave email address so I can contact you

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LG MS DVRLG’s previously announced and demo-ed Microsoft-powered DVR is now available at your local big box retailer. We can all agree ReplayTV is no longer a threat to TiVo’s stand-alone business, but a major play by Microsoft is interesting. In theory, competition is good for innovation and keeping prices reasonably low.

The DVR has some nice features including a beefy 160GB hard drive, USB ports for external drives, a 90 minute buffer, DVD burning, and the ability to playback PC-based audio and pictures. Additionally, MCE owners have the ability send video, audio, and pictures in either direction. To get folks on board Microsoft is offering $100 off of the one-time subscription option.

LG says: The world’s first dedicated “digital media recorder” with the Microsoft Program Guide service is now available at leading consumer electronics retailers nationwide, LG Electronics announced today. The LG LRM-519 Digital Media Recorder is a combination digital video recorder (DVR) and DVD recorder powered by Windows Media Center Technologies with a 160-gigabyte hard drive for unparalleled recording flexibility. Creating a new industry product category and taking home theater digital convergence to the next level, the LG LRM-519 has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $599.95. The Microsoft Program Guide service is available through three subscription options: a one-month subscription for $9.99, a one-year subscription for $99.99 or a one-time subscription for $249.

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Wow, this sure came out of left field. TiVo has applied for a patent allowing customization of remotes and PVRs based on personalized preferences provided via RFID. They describe a variety of scenarios and hardware such as providing customized hotel television viewing and adopting the technology within mobile multimedia devices. No telling when or if this will ever make it to market.

US Patent Application says: A multimedia mobile personalization system provides a remote control that detects a user’s electronic tag, e.g. an RFID tag. The remote control notifies a multimedia device of the user’s identity. The multimedia devices tailors it operations to the user’s preferences stored locally. Multimedia content such as broadcast or recorded television programs, music play lists, and the like could be sorted, displayed, or restricted, depending on the user identifier.

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