TiVo Finds A New Place To Stick Ads – The Pause Screen

Remember the link to Swivel Search that showed up on the pause screen with the new 9.3.2 update for the Series2 recently? Yeah, that was the ground work for TiVo’s real intention – ads. Interestingly the new 11.0 release for HD units lacks this new feature, though I fully expect it to show up in 11.1 or the like. I suspect it was developed in parallel and it was too late to roll it into 11.0 without delaying the release, and they needed it out there for Netflix.

I’m sure this move, putting ads on the pause screen, will upset some users. I mean, there are always those who dislike all forms of advertising, so any ads upset that group. But beyond the hardcore ad haters, I think a number of more moderate users are getting a little annoyed by ‘ad creep’ as advertising finds its way into more and more areas of the TiVo interface.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. I understand TiVo needing to boost revenue, and I’m in favor of TiVo becoming profitable and sticking around. I also understand advertisers looking for new ways to reach DVR users who are increasingly skipping commercials – myself included. At the same time I’m a bit concerned about TiVo diluting their famed UI with ads, but for now I have some faith that they’re not going to tart things up like a lot of cable boxes which look like a bad MySpace page. (I was going to go with GeoCities, but most of my readers probably don’t remember them.)

I don’t really use pause very much, so I doubt this will impact me personally (and not at all right now as I mainly use my S3), but when I due pause a program it is generally to get a better look at something on the screen. So as long as I can clear the overlay this probably won’t bother me. Of course, the rest of the time I pause it is so I can leave the room, so I don’t care what’s on screen anyway. I actually mind this implementation less than some of the existing advertising.

The ads inserted into groups in the Now Playing List still grate on me. I don’t see them a lot since I don’t tend to let recordings build up to create a folder in the first place, but there is something about the NPL that is my area, while the rest of the UI isn’t as personal. It is emotional and not logical, but whenever I go into a folder and see an ad lurking at the bottom I just kind of roll my eyes and make a point of not clicking on it.

I don’t think anything is going to stop the addition of ads to the TiVo interface, it is too important to TiVo’s business and survival. So I’m not going to rail against it too hard, I pick my battles and I don’t see this as a winnable one. And I still feel that TiVo is leaps and bounds better than other DVRs, so I don’t believe there is a viable alternative. I’d sooner live with these ads than use another DVR, and I’m sure TiVo knows that as well. Still, at times I wonder if I may be a boiling frog.

What do you think about this new ad addition?

The press release:

TiVo Expands Ad Solutions Portfolio, Enables Advertisers to Reach Viewers When Programming Is Paused

ALVISO, Calif., Dec 09, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX News Network/ –

- Mercedes-Benz and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment are First Advertisers to Begin Using New ‘Pause Menu’ Feature -

ALVISO, Calif., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO), the creator of and a leader in television services and advertising solutions for digital video recorders (DVRs), today announced the launch of Pause Menu, the latest addition to its suite of interactive ad solutions designed to grab the attention of fast-forwarding viewers who consume TV differently and often do not watch ads the way they are traditionally delivered.

Using the TiVo Pause Menu, advertisers can, for the first time, reach audiences with targeted product messages displayed within the pause screen of a Live or Timeshifted program. The new feature can be particularly impactful for traditional TV and non-television advertisers that have product integration or a significant media investment in a specific TV show. Alternatively, they can opt to cast a wider net by targeting entire genres or keywords within a program description.

The feature provides an original solution for advertisers seeking to capture the fast-forwarding viewer. It’s another example of how TiVo offers unique and different solutions for advertisers looking to get viewers to watch advertisements who avoid traditional spots.

The new Pause Menu also provides broadband connected TiVo subscribers with a direct link to TiVo’s Swivel Search feature, allowing subscribers to easily find program information, related shows and downloads when they click on the “pause” button on the TiVo remote.

Esteemed brands already have plans to launch Pause Menu campaigns. Mercedes-Benz USA, one of the first to sign on, plans to use the feature to help promote its new GLK SUV early next year by targeting football viewers. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is taking advantage of Pause Menu for their Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who DVD and Blu-ray release on December 9.

David Sandford, Vice President Marketing and Product Management for TiVo Inc. said, “With the number of DVR homes on the rise, TV advertisers are facing a very serious commercial avoidance issue that must be addressed now. The launch of Pause Menu moves us another step closer to achieving our goal of providing a comprehensive suite of interactive advertising solutions designed to help the TV industry reach viewers in a DVR world.”

Sandford continued, “It’s important to note that our interactive ad solutions have been so well received because they are non-intrusive and actually enhance the viewing experience. For example, our research tells us that linking the Pause Menu to our popular Swivel Search feature gets very positive viewer reaction. This creates value for viewers and effectiveness for advertisers — a win, win situation.”

Promotions on the Pause Menu will be displayed as a single line of text and another line will link the viewer directly to TiVo’s Universal Swivel Search, allowing TiVo users to explore content without missing a second of their favorite show and creating a seamless, integrated experience.

The new feature is available today to all TiVo® Series2 subscribers.

About TiVo Inc.

Founded in 1997, TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO) pioneered a brand new category of products with the development of the first commercially available digital video recorder (DVR). Sold through leading consumer electronic retailers and our website, TiVo has developed a brand which resonates boldly with consumers as providing a superior television experience. Through agreements with leading satellite and cable providers, TiVo also integrates its DVR service features into the set-top boxes of mass distributors. TiVo’s DVR functionality and ease of use, with such features as Season Pass™ recordings and WishList® searches and TiVo KidZone, have elevated its popularity among consumers and have created a whole new way for viewers to watch television. With a continued investment in its patented technologies, TiVo is revolutionizing the way consumers watch and access home entertainment. Rapidly becoming the focal point of the digital living room, TiVo’s DVR is at the center of experiencing new forms of content on the TV, such as broadband delivered video, music and photos. With innovative features, such as TiVoToGo™ transfers and online scheduling, TiVo is expanding the notion of consumers experiencing “TiVo, TV your way.®” The TiVo® service is also at the forefront of providing innovative marketing solutions for the television industry, including a unique platform for advertisers and audience research measurement.

TiVo, ‘TiVo, TV your way.’, Season Pass, WishList, TiVoToGo, Stop||Watch, Power||Watch, and the TiVo Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of TiVo Inc. or its subsidiaries worldwide. © 2008 TiVo Inc. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.



About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • http://www.zatznotfunny.com Dave Zatz

    The more they add, the more people they will upset. At some tipping point the distaste curve will grow non-linearly. Don’t know of this is it. The problem is, they keep tacking shit on to the existing UI which wasn’t conceived with this stuff in mind. I’m still pulling for the UI redesign – hopefully it’ll make it a better experience and more elegantly present advertising content.

  • http://www.eyrie-productions.com/ Gryphon

    The effect?! I’ll tell you what the effect is! It’s p—ing me off!

    I rather like the other new feature that appeared on my old Series2 recently, though. When I pause programs now, I get a little bar that says “More about $PROGRAM”. Mind you, it’s a bit inaccurate; what it should say is “take me to a black screen with the PLEASE WAIT… box and remain there indefinitely, making me wonder if the box has crashed, until I give up and hit <- to go back to what I was doing.” But I accept that that’s a bit too wordy to really fit in the space provided.

  • http://www-dave.cs.uiuc.edu/ Dave

    I think there’s a real win-win opportunity here for talk shows and the like that have guests on the show promoting their movie/book/product/etc. If this allowed episode level granularity into Swivel (I noticed the S3 v11 update renamed it to “Explore this program”), we could pause and see links to read more about the guest, or the movie/book/product. With Amazon one-click shopping, that could be neat — see something online, pause, research, buy, resume the show. That level of integration hasn’t existed before.

    We should at least try it and see if it works for us. As you noted, most of the time people pause because they don’t care what’s on the screen (doorbell, bathroom breaks) or because they explicitly care what’s on the screen (and the pause menu can be disabled for an entire show.) Compared to looking at my uncle’s Charter DVR and its PiP and ads all over the place, the pause menu doesn’t really irk me.

  • CuriousMark

    The thing I like about the link to swivel search is that it dumps you right on that program’s page, no typing the name into the search box using that infernal ‘hunt and peck with the remote’ text grid.

    They do offer the ability to clear it with down, but single frame advance works better and removes the progress bar also, the way clear does.

  • George

    I absolutely detest the new features and really think that they’ve crossed the line. It’s more and more like the crapware that comes on your new PC. At least, give us the ability to remove those features, as well as re-order in “Music, Photos, and More” (whatever its called now). I don’t want Rhapsody. I don’t want to build a Land Rover. I don’t want to play Sudoku.

    Hey TiVo, how about just building a high quality, friendly user interface? Add the features that your customers have requested. Note: Customers = people who subscribe to your service. How about starting with the percentage space used monitor? Not hard to do, but you’ll set some hearts all a-twitter about that little feature. How about making TiVo Desktop Server robust? Not a memory hog, auto-updates? The sorts of things modern software has? And while I’m on a bit of a rant (and bear in mind, I’m a huge Tivo fan), hey, TiVo software programmers, aren’t you a bit embarrassed by that desktop code?? Start by fixing your memory leaks, then add directories=groups. Really, guys, how hard can it be?

    And while I’m ranting … TiVo, give us Series 2 users a hardware upgrade plan, rather than the sole solution of an outright purchase of a TiVo HD. All you are doing is forcing people to make a complete new DVR decision all over again. You are not that much the incumbent when we have to switch the box out, still call the cable company for cablecards and installation, and then put the old Series 2 in the garage or on eBay.

    All my opinion of course. There are lots of people who think TiVo Corporation is infallible and will continue to give them the benefit of doubt.