Known as TiVo StopWatch, the data analyze second-by-second viewership patterns by an anonymous, aggregated and random sample of 20,000 TiVo units. The information has been available since February and already is being used by Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA and Interpublic Group of Cos. For Crispin, "it is imperative that we are able to identify new trends and recognize which commercials pique viewer interest, in which programming and at what point in the programming," said Jim Poh, VP-director of creative content distribution at the agency.
Crispin's interest in the service highlights an emerging danger for advertising agencies, who in decades past were accustomed to plastering a TV ad on as many outlets as possible and letting the message sink in to consumers' minds. New technology has allowed for the creation of commercial ratings, which look at the viewership for various ad breaks on TV. Many advertisers have signed deals for the coming fall season that make use of these commercial ratings, rather than audience measures for the shows the ads interrupt. As such, marketers will be scrutinizing the performance of their ads more closely and could even force ad agencies to yank creative concepts if the commercials aren't capturing enough eyeballs.
The TiVo data provide "invaluable information that enables us to better understand DVR-viewing behavior, time-shifting and fast-forwarding and how they impact commercial ratings," Mr. Poh said.
Already, TiVo data has begun to show that advertisers have their work cut out for them when it comes to understanding viewers who use digital video recorders. The most-watched ads don't always run in the most-watched TV programs, the data suggests.
What's more, the data highlight an emerging trend: The least fast-forwarded ads tend to land at the extremes of Madison Avenue's collective creativity. The ads are either highly entertaining, such as movie trailers, or really bare-bones, as in the case of many direct-response ads that simply offer information and a means of getting in touch to place an order.