Brave New World

TiVo Inc. last week launched a new interactive advertising technology with ad campaigns from General Motors and The WB Television Network. The new technology enables advertisers to insert a customized "tag" in their commercial, replacing the generic ad tags previously used by TiVo's advertising clients. TiVo customers can select the tag and "telescope" from the traditional 30-second ad to view long-form content, request more information, or take advantage of new recording opportunities. It also ensures advertisers' traditional TV spots will be more visible in TiVo homes, whether viewed in normal play or fast forward mode.

Other features provide advertisers with the ability to receive leads directly from their TV spots—with the viewer's consent—so they can track leads and ensure a qualified return on investment. This additional data will allow advertisers to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of TiVo's proprietary tagging feature, the strength of their creative efforts, and the efficacy of their television media-buying strategy.

According to David Courtney, executive vice president, CFO, and head of TiVo's media and advertising services business, "TiVo's proprietary advertising technology presents a real opportunity for advertisers to enhance the effectiveness of traditional television advertising. Our platform enables advertisers to reach an attractive demographic. Launching with established advertising partners like GM and The WB Network is a validation of TiVo's success and leadership in the interactive advertising space. We are pleased that these corporations have been working with TiVo for so long and are the first advertisers to capitalize on this new feature set."

As part of the announcement, General Motors, the world's largest automaker and a long-time TiVo advertiser, will extend its partnership with TiVo and will be the first car manufacturer to use TiVo's new customized tags for its OnStar, GMC, Chevrolet, and Saturn brands. Using TiVo's new tagging technology, viewers will be able to instantly access additional promotional footage and request information directly from GM.

Betsy Lazar, GM's general director of advertising and media operations, says, "Having worked on various interactive advertising campaigns with TiVo over a number of years, we have had great success. We look forward to our potential customers having the ability to learn about our product in more detail than ever before. This is a step forward in allowing consumers to shop and discover the GM portfolio of products in a revolutionary new way."

In addition, The WB Television Network will be TiVo's first television network partner to utilize the new TiVo custom record tags. The network will use the new technology in conjunction with promotional spots for upcoming WB shows. By pressing the green "thumbs-up" button on their TiVo remote, viewers will be able to record a single episode or the show's full season.

The WB Television Network's co-president of marketing, Lew Goldstein, says, "Our viewers are younger and eagerly adapt themselves to new technologies. TiVo's advertising technology gives them added convenience and greater flexibility when deciding what content they would like to record. It also gives us the opportunity to remind our audience when to tune in to catch their favorite WB shows."

Despite its clear orientation toward advertisers, the company claims that the new advertising technology is designed so that TiVo subscribers retain control over their viewing experience, while giving advertisers new tools to engage interested consumers.

In related news, Comcast, the nation's largest cable-television provider, announced earlier in the quarter that it would deploy TiVo's innovative advertising platform on Comcast's existing DVRs beginning next year. In addition, TiVo announced the signing of a new services agreement with DirecTV, extending the companies' prior services agreement.