Archives For Advertising


After the debacle that was the Fire Phone, Amazon is back in the smartphone business with what appears to be a winning strategy. Instead of developing their own devices, at significant expense, Amazon is partnering with manufacturers to replicate their Kindle and Fire tablet ad-serving, subsidized-hardware approach in addition to pre-loading the companies commerce and consumption apps. So they end up with a similar sort of footprint in this space from a far smaller investment. And, on the flip side, their smartphone partners (initially Blu and Motorola) secure a new and potentially meaningful distribution channel. The only potential fly in the ointment is they’ve started with low- to mid-end devices and it’s unclear (to the casual observer) what the “Prime” demographic might prefer. Amazon’s intent is, likely, also to expand Prime’s reach by making these phones exclusive to the $99/yr program.


While perusing the merger-related deluge of regulatory filings for notable nuggets, we learn that TiVo is developing a “Next Gen UI” (in addition to reinforcing another consumer product is coming, which we’ll discuss next). For color, Virgin Media indicates they “will be updating the existing TiVo set-top box to make its menus slicker and more picture-based.” Vertical lists of text are inefficient in many cases and TiVo’s taxonomy could use some work. I’ve also long said the existing interface isn’t optimized for the appification of television, which probably dovetails with that “next gen consumer product.” Further, I wonder if user profiles are still on the roadmap and when voice control will hit.

Sadly, as is the reality in this space (re: Roku), advertising will likely see increased representation in TiVo’s new look. From CEO Naveen Chopra:

We have had over the last few years a number of different approaches to monetizing that. That continues to evolve so it’s a business that we are still investing in, but it’s one that’s certainly in our discussions where we will continue to be a big priority for the combined company going forward. We think there’s lot of opportunity there. The advertising business in TiVo frankly has been subscale; it’s been something we think has been important to show what the next generation of advertising and interfaces can look like

For reference, TiVo’s current HDUI bowed with the Premiere in 2010… yet still hasn’t been completed. Hopefully, they can knock out their guide transition within the 90 day wind-down period (which I’m hearing is the likely timeframe) and deliver a (complete) graphical interface refresh in 2016.

(Thanks Sam!)

We generally think of Roku in terms of streaming boxes and sticks. Yet, the company pitches themselves as a software platform and the reason hardware remains so affordable, for both consumers and television licensees, is because the company makes the bulk of its revenue elsewhere.


From a Business Insider interview of Roku CEO Anthony Wood:

I don’t think people understand how we make money, that it’s a platform we distribute, we license, and then we monetize our installed base. […] When you sign up for Hulu on Roku, through Roku billing, we get a revenue share for the life of that customer. When you watch an ad-supported channel on Roku, some of that ad inventory is controlled by Roku. […] Advertising is our biggest business.

By comparison, it seems reasonable that Amazon’s intent with the Fire TV is to support their ecosystem of paid services, including Prime and video rentals. However, Roku doesn’t see their one-time suitor as much of a threat when it comes to television-based app delivery.

In the licensing business, we’re by far ahead, and there’s a couple of reasons. One is our neutral positioning. 30% of all TVs sold in the US are sold through Walmart. […] they hate Amazon. Walmart is never going to carry an Amazon TV, ever. […] In licensing, really the only competitor is Google. Apple doesn’t license […] So they’re our biggest competitor for TVs.

(via Cord Cutter News)

Patent Trollvi rises…

Yes, the leaks were true. Rovi intends to purchase TiVo.

While TiVo creates amazing products and has successfully deployed their solution to numerous cable operators around the world, beyond patent litigation and licensing, they haven’t found much financial success. Basically, the writing was on the wall. Continue Reading…

Amazon has passed what looks to be a second generation Dash button thru the FCC — based on filing approach, device profile, and model number. But, given the very limited information, the only obvious enhancement is Bluetooth LE joining the existing 802.11 WiFi variants, potentially allowing smartphone or home automation interaction beyond what’s currently available in merely reordering supplies via wireless. Alexa-like integration would be cool…


As to other upcoming Amazon reveals: I’m also currently tracking what’s either a new Fire tablet or Kindle e-reader or, alternately, an existing device of that sort headed to new markets. Stay tuned.

TiVo’s always had a bit of a marketing problem. Yet it’s not exactly clear if it’s because their value proposition is difficult to communicate (possibly) or their efforts are misguided (definitely) or a bit of both (likely). But it’s deliciously ironic that they’ve announced they’re dialing back their advertising spend … the very same month their research unit indicates a negative impact on brand awareness and sales. Skate to where the puck will never be?

From Broadcasting & Cable:

Cutting TV ad spending led to much lower sales for most of the marketers included in a new study. […] For every dollar cut from the TV budget, sales fell $3 dollars, the research found. Return on investment dropped as well. The average marketer reduced its ad budget by $3.1 million, resulting in lost sales of $8.6 million. […] In terms of other marketing goals, the companies that cut their ad spending reached fewer potential customers.

From TiVo’s quarterly call:

And then on the consumer side, we are going to be investing less in the Marketing of consumer.

Hack Thyself

Dave Zatz —  January 1, 2016

Like Chipotle and Honda before them… “Jessica Jones” took over Netflix’s Twitter account today.

As wireless data usage increases, T-Mobile has seemingly come up with a clever solution to satiate customers without saturating their network. “Binge On” will enable unlimited video streaming, from select providers like Netflix and WatchESPN, that doesn’t count against one’s cap. T-Mobile marketing states they’ve “optimized” the video … which some are reporting as 480p. On the go, on a small screen, that may be sufficient for most. I’d probably make that trade at the gym for treadmill Netflix, given the facility’s WiFi struggles and the potential to burn through my Verizon bucket.

From Fierce Wireless:

The reality is that Binge On will be imposed on all of T-Mobile’s customers starting Sunday, including the ones who have signed up for its unlimited data plans. Customers who don’t want the service will have to opt out of it. Yes, Binge On gives T-Mobile’s customers free streaming video, but it also reduces the resources T-Mobile needs to employ to deliver that video. It’s a smart move, but it’s not as altruistic as Legere might imply.


Of course, there are two sides to every coin. And some will object to reduced video quality. Assuming they even know T-Mobile took the liberty of making that change on their behalf. Further, “zero rating” is something of a net neutrality issue. Continue Reading…