The TV execs might as well and go ahead an implant chips in our heads so they can track every instant we watch television, when we watch, how we watch, and whether or not we skip the ads.
Don’t laugh. In recent months, NBC and a company called Innerscope tested a vest that monitored a viewer’s heartbeat, sweat, and movement to show that consumers react to sped-up ads.
The latest attempt to gain an understanding of our TV viewing habits comes from NBC Universal, which became the first major broadcaster to use a digital video recording company’s advertising services to — you guessed it — better understand every moment we watch (or don’t watch) TV.
NBC-U will tap into TiVo’s StopWatch commercial-ratings service to gain second-by-second information on how TiVo’s viewers are watching TV. Additionally, NBC-U’s 14 TV and 10 NBC-owned-and-operated TV stations will sell TiVo’s interactive “tags”, or onscreen icons, that viewers click to see longer commercials in combination with other NBC products.
Naturally, TiVo and NBC Universal will work together to develop additional advertising products.
“A year ago we never would have done a deal with ads which would have introduced into our programming the opportunity for viewers to leave the live program and enter into the world of time-shifted viewing,” Mike Pilot, NBC Universal’s president of sales and marketing, told Advertising Age.
With the recent shift to paying for TV ads based on commercial ratings — not those of TV programs — Pilot said the networks are paying greater attention to new ad strategies that entice viewers to watch and engage. More advertisers are looking for hard data — which they can now get from set-top boxes — to prove that TV advertising is still effective.
“Advertisers have been asking us to help them find new ways to make TV advertising more effective,” Pilot told the Wall Street Journal. “This partnership gives us the data, the research, and the tools to try a bunch of new advertising format and test their performance.”
For TiVo, the agreement with NBC Universal is part of a larger strategy to build its research service at a time when it is under growing pressure from cable, satellite, and telephone companies that rent or sell DVRs to subscribers. TiVo is trying to increase the role its DVR plays in the home — which Comcast and Verizon, among others, are sure to follow.
Photo credit: Michael Pilot by Virgina Sherwood via AdAge