TIVO LESS OF A THREAT? 'SURPRISING' P&G FINDINGS

Recall of Tivo Ad Zappers Similar to That of Tivo Ad Watchers

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Recent internal research by Procter & Gamble Co. indicates that consumers who fast-forward through ads with digital personal video recorders
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such as TiVo still recall those ads at roughly the same rates as people who see them at normal speed in real time.

The surprising research has led at least some P&G marketing executives to conclude that TiVo may not pose the threat to TV advertising that many predict, according to executives close to the company. A P&G spokeswoman declined to comment on the research, saying, "We have nothing we can share publicly on TiVo."

Executives with such major copy-testing companies as Ipsos-ASI and RSC's ARS Group said they're not aware of any such research findings regarding TiVo involving their firms.

Other testing scores affected
Even if recall scores aren't affected by fast-forwarding through the ads, however, other copy-testing measures, such as persuasion, "liking" and branding power, likely are affected, said Mark Schar, who formerly oversaw P&G's market research department.

Mr. Schar said he was not aware of the research regarding TiVo's impact on ad recall before he left the company last year to help found Donology, a firm that facilitates donations of corporate intellectual property to nonprofit organizations. But he said recall scores generally tend to be low, anyway.

'People hardly recall anything'
"That's probably not an unusual finding based on the way people recall things," Mr. Schar said. "People hardly recall anything. So you're dealing with low numbers anyway, and differences with low numbers take a lot to be significant. So I could see how statistically you could make that case."

People are more likely to recall commercials for products they know and like, he added. That tends to be bad news for marketers of smaller brands trying to break through the clutter, but helps bigger, more established ones -- a factor that could help P&G products whether they're seen live or on high-speed TiVo replay. "If it appeals to you," he said, "if you play it fast or slow, it could click."

But Mr. Schar said he also doubts consumers who fast-forward through ads at the highest of three speeds available on TiVo could possibly have meaningful recall of them. Another executive close to P&G asked: "What does that [recall research on TiVo] say about the agencies and their copy?"

P&G has in the past shared other TiVo research that found only about a third of TiVo users actually fast-forward through ads, though fast-forwarding becomes more frequent the longer people use the PVR technology.

Know your audience
"What we found was actually very encouraging, because it says align your commercial message with the kind of programming your target audience is interested in and they'll get the message whether they TiVo it or not," Mr. Schar said.

"In the end, I would bet [P&G] can be convinced by research that TiVo will not have that much of an impact," he said. "They may still go out and try to browbeat the networks into giving them a lower CPM [cost per thousand viewers] on the basis of it, but they'd want to know either way."

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