Advertising search allows consumers to voluntarily seek and access personally selected commercial information (ads) on product and services they are interested in.
TiVo, the company that pioneered a brand new category of television-ads skipping products with the development of the first commercially available digital video recorder (DVR) which allows individuals to select and watch their favourite television programming when and where they want to, has just announced the launch of its new advertising search product named 'TiVo Product Watch' which offers advertisers an innovative new way to reach TiVo subscribers who are actively looking for commercial products and information.
We are in a new video/television era, where consumers not only expect to have greater choice and more control, but actually proactively demand it. Advertising search provides the means to place the user once again in the control seat, even when it comes to television advertising, a daily experience on which television viewers had lost all of their controls.
Search advertising, which means the ability for the user to select and watch advertising messages according to her preferences, allows advertisers to spend their money much more effectively and efficiently than traditional ads fired at millions of uninterested viewers could.
By providing searchable ads content in highly requested consumer categories, TiVo Product Watch leverages its strong television content search functionality to deliver highly relevant and very targeted advertising messages to those viewers who are most interested in getting them.
TiVo Product Watch meets the needs of consumers who can seek commercial information and advertising content relevant to them, and marketers benefit because they are serving highly targeted customers in a way never available to them before: with the user "asking" for the commercials!
The new TiVo Product Watch service will deliver targeted, relevant advertising content, from more than 70 advertisers and 100 leading brands, from up to five different product categories including Automotive, Entertainment, Financial, Lifestyles, and Travel and Leisure.
TiVo subscribers will be able to create searches and select advertising content, ranging from 60-second spots to hour-long infomercials, from any of the five different product categories of interest and have it delivered directly to their Now Playing section of the TiVo service.
TiVo Product Watch will also offer subscribers the ability to create a search based on their favorite brands allowing TiVo viewers to opt-in to receive video content directly from that company on an ongoing basis.
TiVo has already over 4.4 million subscribers, which, thanks to Product Watch will become the first group of enabled TV viewers to get commercial information about a product they are interested, when they want it, rather than through traditional TV advertising, where a viewer has no control of what ad comes on when they are watching a program.
While most news reports and blog stories on this launch have welcomed this entry with a sense of curious interest, pointing to the revolutionary new offer by TiVo as just another "idea", which we need to see whether it will survive or not, they fail completely to see the key transformation we are witnessing in advertising communication and which TiVo Product Watch exemplifies so well.
Here the highlights:
1) The idea is not new, though this is the first time it is put to use in an effective way. Advertising has been only a "push" mode communication approach. Given the new technologies and the central role user choices now play in marketing communications, what about if the user started to pull the information (and ads) she wanted? Read some of these articles on bottom-up advertising approaches or about my idea of treating ads just as another information channel.
2) Though they don't scream about it everyday, television viewers are sick and tired of being bombarded by ads they don't want to see. But they have no way of escaping the centrally-controlled commercial propaganda machine intruding in every show, news or sport event (outside of a TiVo-like device).
3) On the web, the Google contextual advertising system, based on AdWords and Adsense, shows that readers do appreciate unintrusive, highly relevant, contextual commercial information. So the ad-version is not against commercial information in general, but specifically against this delivery method: interruptive, distractive, non-relevant. Can something similar work on television?
4) Once individuals are free to seek and select commercial information without being forced to watch pre-packaged mass-tailored ads, a universe of changes will fall through in how we market, select and shop.
5) User-driven advertising search is cost-effective. Advertisers spend much less to reach many more, highly qualified targeted prospective buyers.
The above are so powerful, that appreciating the dimension of change these will bring is likely being underestimated.
In fact, it really doesn't matter whether the TiVo Product Watch will catch on or not, as in one way or another the future of advertising is set to go in this direction.
As a new media explorer my advice is that the best use of TiVo Product Watch today, is to consider it a good preview of things to come.
What is TiVo?
If you are not already familiar with what TiVo is. Here is a short summary:
TiVo is a piece of hardware, much like a TV decoder or standard set-top box which automatically finds and digitally records all of your favorite television shows when they are broadcast without needing for you to be physically present.
TiVo is also a service that helps connect your computer with your television set and to see your multimedia contents as television programming. TiVo acts also as a search engine to find and automatically record the shows that best match your interests (by title, actor, director, category, even keyword).
TiVo can record whatever you want and then allow you to see it at your preferred time and even from your preferred location (that's right TiVo allows you to play back recordings even when you are not physically where your TiVo box is).