The company has been on a research hiring spree over the past six months and today announced the launch of a separate division, Audience Research and Measurement, or ARM.
'Vastly improved' ratings system
ARM's first product is what TiVo touts as a "vastly improved" version of its Commercial Viewership Reports, which analyze behaviors such as fast-forwarding, rewinding, replaying and pausing, and will offer advertisers and agencies second-by-second data on DVR-based ad viewing -- or lack thereof. TiVo also claims advertisers will know the viewing levels and effectiveness of their advertisements by network, genre, daypart, time slot, day of week and the commercial's pod position.
Earlier this month Nielsen Media Research announced it would be giving each program it measures a "commercial rating" -- an average rating for all commercial minutes in the program. The data would be based on Nielsen's minute-by-minute measurements, which some agencies have charged aren't granular enough for the kind of analyses they want to do. The minute-by-minute ratings don't measure individual ad units and, in some cases, contain program and commercial time.
Randomly sampled households
Of course, TiVo's 4.4 million households represent a fraction of DVR penetration, which Nielsen Media Research estimates will be 12% of U.S. households by the end of the year, up from the current 7.1%. And TiVo's commercial viewing behavior is culled from 20,000 daily randomly sampled households that aren't necessarily indicative of the viewing population at large. Nielsen Media Research, by contrast, measures 10,000 households selected to reflect the general population. TiVo said it will present the data for advertisers to compare and contrast it with audience measurement from other sources.
The new division will inevitably have media buyers wondering why, if TiVo can offer such granular data on such a quick turnaround, can't cable and satellite services do the same? Both have been busily deploying their own DVRs but have yet to offer advertisers any sort of overall figure on how people are viewing them.