Television advertising isn’t interactive, typically — unless you like dialing up 1-800 infomercial numbers to purchase things like bona fide omelette toasters, commemorative Indian nickel plaques, and large, dull-proof knife sets. TiVo, the company that made a name for itself by letting users record TV for later viewing (and skip commercials), is working on a next-generation form of TV advertising, that promises to be far more interactive. It is partnering with Amazon to offer product ads that appear alongside regular TV ads and programming. These ads will let viewers go and purchase those products directly from Amazon.
In the coming months, the four million-plus TiVo users out there will begin to see options to make these purchases, the New York Times reports. So if a viewer stops watching a show to go buy a product, TiVo will let them seamlessly return to watching after making the purchase. Viewers will also be able to save intended purchases on their Amazon account in case they decide to make the purchase later. The ads will also be contextually featured within TiVo’s interface.
Alviso, Calif.-based TiVo has been trying to expand from its existing user base, which by itself is not large enough to impress major television advertisers. It has started licensing its TV-viewing software to large cable companies like Comcast, although these efforts are not yet getting mass distribution. In the meantime, the so-called DVR technology that it helped pioneer has been widely copied.
TiVo users can already download videos from Amazon’s Video on Demand stores; but that Amazon product has also undergone a recent, major upgrade and it’s not yet clear where it will leave TiVo.
Though TiVo chief executive Thomas S Rogers tells the Times that interactive TV ad sales “is not our focus today,” this move seems to be pointing the company in that direction.