May 26, 2004

Oh no! TiVo is making me watch commercials!

Here's some important technology research, reported by Mediapost:

[R]esearch concludes that DVRs "recapture" TV commercial exposures that otherwise would have been "zapped" by non-DVR viewers. The study estimated that 51 percent of non-DVR viewers zap TV commercials, usually by using their remote control to change the channel when they come on. However, 96 percent of those viewers actually watch TV commercials when they become DVR subscribers, albeit in fast-forward mode.

While such fast-forwarding clearly diminishes the communications effectiveness of TV commercials, the study found that most fast-fowarders "notice" TV commercials either "always" (15 percent) or "sometimes" (52 percent) while zipping through the spots. Moreover, some big ad agencies and digital TV developers are exploring methods that would digitally compress commercials in such a way that would enable an abbreviated real-time version of the spots to be viewed during fast-forwarding.

Ah, this is true in my experience. I used to change channels when a commercial came on. For a while, until it broke, I had a ReplayTV device that had a button that jumped forward in 30 second increments (and then let you back up if you overshot in 6 second increments). But with TiVo you fastforward, and that forces you to look attentively at the material you are trying to skip so you can stop when the show reappears.

So now there needs to be some really crafty construction of the commercials so that they work to deliver their message when you are speeding by them, for example, by keeping words or pictures in a fixed place long enough that a speeder would see them.

(And I found that Mediapost article via Defamer, which I bookmarked, even though it didn't understand the TiVo fastforwarding phenomenon accurately (or didn't want to talk about that), because it has some nice gossip and celebrity photos (an Olson twin appearing to eat food, Clay Aiken boosting his reputation).)


Anonymous said...

I TiVo every Law and Order on TNT. When I'm fastforwarding through the commercials all I can make out is Allegra and some new movie called The Grid. They leave the title up for some time too. Doesn't even seem interesting, but I'm paying attention to it. I hope I don't watch it.

Ann Althouse said...

So: pay attention without watching. That sounds rather Zen.

Anonymous said...

You do know that there's a 30-second skip Easter Egg that you can program into your TiVo remote, right? Just checking.

Ann Althouse said...

I do now, but didn't before this post prompted someone to email me about it. The whole notion of programming a remote control is strange to me. It seems a bit like things my sons did with video games to get "extra lives" or something. But this is great. It will help me get past my grief over a dead ReplayTV.