Searching for Answers by Fast-Forwarding

If you are TiVo, you are a service looking for answers -- fast answers.

The company intends to sell its fast-forwarding, on-screen space to advertisers, intended to blunt its users that currently fast-forward through commercials. The move is also intended to help soften advertiser concerns that TiVo and other digital video recording devices hurt their marketing efforts.

This is a move it has to make. DirecTV, which has been its partner for years and responsible for 70 percent of its TiVo unit sales, is now a News Corp. company. And that means changes. Already DirecTV has made moves to distance itself from its DVR company, and it looks to replace TiVo with a News Corp.-owned European DVR service.

When the users hit the fast-forward function during a commercial break, an advertising logo could pop up. Future usages of this function will allow consumers to click on the logo for more information about the company or products.



TiVo has primarily been selling itself as an easier digital time shifting function for consumers. But one of the main benefits -- not clearly promoted by TiVo -- is its fast-forward function, which can zip users through commercials in about 10 to 15 seconds, depending on the speed.

Press reports have wonder whether the sales of the fast-forwarding space will hurt consumer sales, and, cheekily, whether the company will change in its advertising tag line from 'TiVo: TV Your Way' to 'TiVo: TV Our Way.'

TiVo is definitely seeking alternatives, but other questions need to be asked.

Even before this initiative was announced, TiVo really had not made in-roads in building its advertising coffers. Sure, it made deals with about 20 advertisers - mostly entertainment-driven companies. But many of those deals were tied to its home page marketing efforts that direct consumers to specific areas to see entertainment-driven marketing. Those marketing efforts aren't weaved into the main consumer TiVo functions.

Selling ad logos probably won't be enough. Instead, consumers will flock to competitor DVR makers who won't provide that marketing tool to advertisers.

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