SAN FRANCISCO – Digital video-recording company TiVo Inc. (TIVO), famous for helping customers skip commercials on their favorite television programs, is taking steps to encourage viewers to watch them.
TiVo, based in Alviso, Calif., has announced plans to insert symbols that identify advertisers during commercial breaks, making them more visible even when a customer is fast forwarding through them.
The ID tags are designed to alert TiVo customers to certain products. If customers are interested in learning more, they can pause the show they are watching to receive a "long-format" commercial or obtain information about the product. The new campaign will be launched with General Motors (GM) and The WB Network (search) commercials.
"TiVo's proprietary advertising technology presents a real opportunity for advertisers to enhance the effectiveness of traditional television advertising," said TiVo chief financial officer David Courtney.
But encouraging TiVo customers to download ads could be a tough sell, analysts have predicted. People subscribe to TiVo's service, which allows customers to make video recordings of their favorite TV shows, precisely to avoid commercials.
The new commercial strategy is the latest attempt by TiVo to generate ad revenue for the company, which has yet to turn a profit since its founding in 1997.
Despite the company's loyal following of 3.3 million subscribers, TiVo has labored to increase its subscriber base. In its first-quarter report in May, TiVo reported a loss of $857,000. The company has said it would reach profitability in the fourth quarter.