back to article Nielsen, eat your heart out: TiVo woos admen with prediction engine

More data means better performance for advertising – at least on the digital side. Increasingly, marketers are looking to inject data-driven decision making into the “dumbest” box in the house: the TV set. “The whole television industry used to be based on age, gender demographics, in terms of television buying and planning,” …

  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    TiVo board meeting.

    "We can tell advertisers what people will watch and so who to target their ads at. They'll pay a fortune for that information!"

    "Yeees, but all our data comes from TiVo users, who all use our handy ad-skipping feature to avoid watching them anyway..."

    "We won't tell them that."

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: TiVo board meeting.

      I am worried as a Tivo owner that they will make it more difficult to skip ads in the future, or somehow charge for it. Hopefully if they do it'll just be for the IMHO near-useless 'skip mode', and they'll leave those of us who repeatedly hit the 30 second skip alone.

      Between their inexplicable lack of a way to transfer all settings (including thumb ratings and whatnot) from one Tivo to another like any cell phone has been able to do for years, and this Rovi acquisition, I'm thinking it is likely my Tivo Premiere will be my last. If they provided a seamless upgrade and I felt assured they wouldn't cripple the product to placate Rovi's advertising clients, I'd probably have upgraded to a Bolt already.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adverts on TV?

    How quaint.

    so very 1980's.

    Ad skipping rules ok.

    As 95% of all advertising is not aimed at me so why not skip them.

    As my Humax and TV are not connected to the Internet. All recorded from FreeSat so my viewing habits I don't feed the Ad machine and long may that remain.

    1. Dr Scrum Master


      How quaint.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Is that why TiVo boxes are so slow?

    So when the time comes to flick the switch and spam you with with adverts, you aren't dismissing them for a good 10 seconds.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Is that why TiVo boxes are so slow?

      I was going to as the same - why is the TiVo user interface so shit in so many ways?

      First it is dog-slow, and I mean a dog that can't be bothered to even lick its own bits, let along anyone else’s.

      Secondly so many of the user interface aspects are really badly thought out - like lists not wrapping round so going from A-Z is even more tedious because you can just go backwards from A to find Z in one step.

      Thirdly the skip feature is hardly great, in particular why is skipping back 30 sec do broken? Why can it go back to the point you just skipped forward from when you realise in 1s that you overshot?

      And to wrap it all up, WTF is it doing while booting? I can boot about 4 other Linux boxes in sequence before my VM-supplied TiVo has got the the point of showing TV.

  4. lukewarmdog

    So confused

    As the first post points out, the reason I have TiVo is to skip ads.

    Secondly this doesn't help really because there's not just me who watches the TV. Until they can figure out whether it's me or the dog who are they targetting? And obviously when they do figure out which one of us it is, how are they going to get the dog to buy its own stuff?

    Personally I feel the best question, at the point of sale, is just to ask "is there any point showing you adverts?" and if I say "no" then save your money, don't try and show me them.

  5. Terry 6 Silver badge


    Is there any correlation between what people want to watch and what they buy?

    I know marketeers think they can segment markets and all that sort of stuff. But there is a big difference between watching a programme because there's nothing better on, actively wanting to watch a programme ( even on TiVo), being prepared to sit through an advert, being interested in the advertised product and so on.

    There's a big difference between getting a large group of a relevant demographic and punting a product at them, and this apparently magical system that makes people who watch a certain programme go out and buy a certain type of product because it happens to appear half-way through Corrie.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really

      Is there any correlation between what people want to watch and what they buy?

      Indeed so. Just because I'm passing the time watching some police procedural that I recorded mid-afternoon to avoid a clash with other evening programs does not mean that I need incontinence pads or tampons (never mind the biological impossibility of inserting them), or that I want to go on a river cruise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really

        "(never mind the biological impossibility of inserting them)"

        But haven't you ever noticed they don't tell you where to insert them? As a man I've been half tempted to buy a pack and "crack" this riddle once and for all. Nothing is impossible!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really

          But haven't you ever noticed they don't tell you where to insert them?

          Or even to insert them, for that matter. All you apparently need to do is to buy them, and you can become an export sportsperson. Maybe I should just leave them in my gym bag?

          No, perhaps not...

      2. Mutton Jeff

        Re: Really

        yeah, but must've 'ad PPI and that snow leopard a'int gonna sponsor itself now, is it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really

      "Is there any correlation between what people want to watch and what they buy?"

      Such a correlation has been measured. The market research company I work form (hence my anonymity) has (or had) a panel of households for which it has both TV viewing behaviour and buying behaviour. As the correlation has been measured, if the correlation were weak, the ad industry would consequently be undergoing a crisis of confidence, plummeting sales, and a revolution. It isn't.

  6. zaax

    What about me? I hardly watch TV at all (its so old fashioned) , and my ad blocker works very well. Back to the advertising on billboards, as thats the only way you will get me.

  7. David Roberts Silver badge

    Alternative approach

    If they really know the audience for each show (not just guess from a sample) then they can switch round adverts so they get maximum exposure then check on sales volume. Bigger samples get more accurate results.

    Then use sampling to try and work out the demographic. Unless of course they have the sales details of the box and already know who you are which makes for more scary profiling.

    1. dmwalsh568

      Re: Alternative approach

      TiVo users have to be TiVo subscribers, so they have some basic info on all regular TiVo users. And with the occasional sweepstakes, they can gather a lot of detailed demographic detail over time. That used in conjunction with show watching info can give a pretty detailed "view" of the TiVo households.

      Of course, that assumes nobody would lie to TiVo on the various forms....sure, my birthday is April 1, isn't everyones?

      And depending on how creepy they want to get, just imagine the big data possibilities of the TiVo boxes not only reporting what shows you watch and which ads you fast forward past, or even back up to watch a few times...but there is no reason the TiVo boxes can't report what programs get recorded via Season Pass (aka OnePass), or via individual requests. Recording habits can be just as useful as watching habits as the two don't necessarily line up for those of us with large HDs in our TiVo boxes....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did you know

    TIVO reports a lot of data. so much so that a certain unnamed UK provider who use it as their main box have a Cray Computer to do the crunching as the data comes in.

    Anonymous for a reason.

  9. Puppasmurf

    The lights on but no ones home

    What makes them think just because the TV is on any channel that I'm actully watching it, they can number crunch or gather what they like it dont mean nothing really

  10. Blacklight

    You clearly missed the "experiments"

    A while back, if you paused on VM TiVo, an ad popped up on the pause bar (for Tetley, IIRC) - so you may have something foisted on the screen even if you ignore it. It got slammed and went away (for a bit).

    Also - do you not find it very suspicious that 99% of the channels on VM TiVo (other than terrestrial) seem to have magically sync'd their advert breaks? Get bored and channel hop? More ads...

    1. a well wisher

      "do you not find it very suspicious that 99% of the channels on VM TiVo (other than terrestrial) seem to have magically sync'd their advert breaks? Get bored and channel hop? More ads..."

      I'd say they've pretty much pulled off that trick on terrestrial Freeview too

  11. Stuart Halliday

    I just press the 'thumbs down' button to all the programmes I watch. Just to confuse them.

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