The Near Futurist

Better than skipping commercials

Networks and advertisers have it all wrong.  Rather than the TiVo technology being the bane of their very existence, they should work with TiVo to take advantage of what they can offer.

Here’s one idea:  allow users to rate TV commercials with their Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down button on the TiVo remote.  
Some details on how this might work: as a TV viewer, I start watching a commercial.  If I like it, I keep watching it, perhaps even giving it a Thumbs Up.  If I don’t like it, I give it a Thumbs Down.  
When I give a commercial a Thumbs Up, that information gets back to TiVo, to the network, and to the advertiser.  They can aggregate this data to see which commercials are good, which are being watched, and hopefully are delivering their message.  They can even take my personal decision to deliver better ads to me if and when the time comes for dynamic delivery of ads through the TiVo.
When I give a commercial a Thumbs Down, the TiVo then skips to the next commercial, and gives me the option to rate the next commercial.  Again, this data is sent back to those who made and showed the commercial, and they are given a better picture of commercials that annoyed their target audience.  TV viewers like myself are going to skip over the commercials anyway — why not give them a more efficient tool, but at the same time, provide some very valuable data to better deliver a commercial message to TV viewers.  You also get the benefit of a more engaged TV commercial viewer, and a potential customer who isn’t forced to sit through or fast-forward through an annoying ad.  To prevent a viewer from simply hitting Thumbs Down to all commercials,  you can force a viewer to see at least the first few seconds of the commercial before giving it a rating.  That way, the time it takes to pass over the commercials via fast-forwarding is about the same as for rating commercials.
Viewers win: they get to skip commercials they don’t like, and get a sense of ownership over what commercials they do and don’t see.
TiVo wins: they delight their users with new features that benefit them.
Advertisers win: they show better and more effective ads to their market.
Networks win: TV is now a more accountable form of advertising with a better predictive ROI.
How often do you get a win-win-win-win situation?
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