As you probably suspect, I’ve been somewhat ambivalent of TiVo’s expanded/additional in-DVR advertising initiatives. While I support their desire to increase revenue and reach profitability, as a paying subscriber I am leery of ads negatively impacting my DVR experience. Additionally, I have (unfounded?) fears that easy advertising dollars could discourage TiVo from pursuing my VOD/PPV (higher development and infrastructure costs, lower profit margins) dreams.
The bottom line is that these types of advertising are just beginning their set-top box intrusions… and are most likely here to stay if the studios can’t prevent fast forwarding through commercials. For example, in addition to TiVo, satellite and cable operators have started rolling out similar “features.” In fact, TiVo’s “interactive advertising platform” was cited in partnering with Comcast. One shady individual (a competitor? consulting firm?) even offered me several hundred dollars to film and describe all of TiVo’s current ad technologies (I declined).
Do I want ads? No… in fact, ad-avoidance is a primary reason I use TiVo. But if we go on the assumption that this sort of advertising is inevitable, how would I rate TiVo’s performance? So far, I think they’ve done a decent job walking the tight rope of pushing ads without alienating customers. The Photos & More section is a cluttered mess, but the rest of the UI is relatively organized and advertising is easily avoided by those who’d rather skip it. That, of course, defeats the purpose… so I call on the advertisers to give me a good reason to tune in — make something compelling, unique, entertaining, etc. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m also willing to sell my time to TiVo and their advertisers at the rate of 25 cents off my bill for each minute of advertising I consume. By the way, TiVo: the one form of advertising I will watch ’til the cows come home is movie trailers and behind the scenes stuff… throw as much of it as you want my way.
Last but not least, kudos to Michelle Quinn of The Mercury News who may be the first reporter to accurately portray my feelings on a subject.
The Mercury News says: When TiVo announced some of its advertising initiatives, Dave Zatz, who writes a TiVo blog called Zatznotfunny, predicted dark days ahead. But so far, the 34-year-old network engineer from Maryland has been pleasantly surprised. “I’d rather have less advertising,” said Zatz. “But if we have to have it, I’d like to see advertisers get more creative and trade us for our time.”