TiVo CEO weighs in on advertising

Rogers insists TV must grow with consumers

While NATPE keynoter Tom Rogers may seem like a fox in the henhouse, the TiVo CEO maintains that DVR technology will ultimately improve the bottom line for both advertisers and broadcasters.

“There’s an acceptance that this is the consumer world now,” he says. “(Everyone) has to deal with it, and we are very much a part of the solution. We’ve worked with all elements of the media industry — cable, satellite, programmer, movie studio, network, advertiser, agency — in helping to bring about what we think can be a far stronger model than the one that exists today.”

Rogers believes broadcasters need to avoid the pitfalls encountered by other media, such as newspapers and magazines, which didn’t react quickly enough to changing trends in consumer behavior. “Those worlds have declined because this thing got away,” he says. “And there is no reason for that to happen.”

Overall, the TiVo topper is bullish on television’s symbiosis with advertising. “First and foremost, I am a believer that television advertising can be more powerful, more impactful than ever and therefore provide programmers a stronger financial business model than they’ve had in the past.”

Still, Rogers remains concerned about growing viewer independence and the industry’s loss of control over the viewing experience, which he calls “the biggest pending crisis that it has ever faced: The viewers decide what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. And viewers decide what exactly will be seen and won’t be seen, including whether or not they’ll watch commercials.”

Acknowledging that this new reality is partly TiVo’s doing, he adds that “there’s been this march in the last few years for us to figure out how we can be a key player in transforming the business model in a way that helps programmers and networks, and not simply be viewed, as we were in the past, as a disruptive technology that was undermining the business model.”

Rogers adds that “it’s our responsibility to provide a business model that will work” in a time-shifted world, “(including) all the measuring techniques in terms of a second-by-second ability to measure exactly what people are watching so that television can begin to have the kind of accountability and measurability that the Internet has had.”

While product integration is one option for preserving brand awareness, Rogers believe the real solution is more encompassing. “What we find about product integration is, unlike brand advertising, while people may note it while they are watching something, the likelihood of acting on it once the product integration has occurred is far less likely. It doesn’t have the … power of causing someone to ultimately go out and purchase.”

More potent is a “TiVo-ized” interactive approach, he says. “One of the things we have done is create actionability by allowing certain things to be immediately purchased within a program,” Rogers explains. “(Such) applications have been around a long time and have all failed miserably, mostly because people find them intrusive, so technology has to integrate the ability to learn more about a product. The DVR is critical to that because it can be paused, so someone doesn’t miss a second of their programming. Otherwise, the whole purchase process becomes one that annoys people and causes them to avoid it. The DVR can offer them the option of learning more about the product at the end of a show.”

Rogers says the transition is redefining how advertising fits into the television consumption process. “And done right,” he adds, “you can make television advertising far more informative, far more consuming, far more valuable, far more relatable to the ultimate transaction — all of which can be much more measurable, the way the Internet is.”

He summarizes that the key to success is to embrace rather than fight consumer behavior. “In the next three years, you are likely to have 50% of homes with DVRs, so people are going to have to get far more active about getting in front of this.”

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