But this new awareness of what placements would be in the best interests of marketers would be a "horror show" to TV media sellers only if the media buyers decided to use it. And liberal trade magazines tend to wax optimistic on the rationality of the markets. In point of fact, ad buyers remain unlikely to use the better TiVo numbers because they suffer from laziness, a blind self-interest and indolence.
TiVo does, in fact, provide data that would greatly help marketers make their media buys much more efficient. In the least, the data can act as a price bludgeon to be wielded against sales representatives all aquiver about how "valuable" their inventory is.
But, more realistically, the media buyers do not get paid nor evaluated based on the efficiency of their purchases. Personally, there is little to gain from switching from Nielsen to TiVo. In fact, personally, there might be much to lose:
Precedent tells us that the current market leaders in the media metrics field will find some small foible in the TiVo process - perhaps a narrow part of the data on which their methodology is weaker - and make that mole hill of a problem into a perceived mountain. A good candidate for this sort of market propaganda has already surfaced. It appears that the TiVo data reveals that certain types of shows (regular sitcoms, for instance) tend to suffer from a higher rate of audience ad skipping. This could well be a TiVo-introduced phenomenon, whereby those shows that are most likely to be TiVo recorded for delayed viewing would naturally be more likely to be viewed whilst skipping commercials.
The final line of the old guard's defense will be suing TiVo for patent infringement. There are lots of silly patents in this space. With an average patent litigation legal bill exceeding $500,000, it matters little whether or not TiVo actually infringes on anyone.
In the halls of the major ad firm media research departments, the analyses of which methodology proves most useful will be about as fair as a French figure skating competition. TiVo is the new American skater, too new and too naïve to have already bribed the judges. It might have technical merit, but the big agencies will stick with Nielsen for its je ne sais quois.