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TiVo: Viewers Skip Fewer 'Relevant Ads'

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NEW YORK TiVo released the first batch of data (covering May 2008) from its new second-by-second commercial audience measurement service, PowerWatch, which company officials said supported the idea that viewers skip fewer ads that they see as relevant to their circumstances.

The data from the service is drawn from a panel of 20,000 volunteer TiVo users and it revealed that all demographic segments time shift and fast-forward through commercials at a high rate. In prime time on the broadcast networks, about 57 percent of all viewing is time shifted and 66 percent of the ads are skipped. For all TV networks (cable and broadcast) across all time periods, about 36 percent of viewing is time shifted and about half the ads are skipped, said Todd Juenger, vp, gm, audience research and measurement, TiVo.

Juenger said that the PowerWatch data debunked the perception that early DVR adopters (TiVo subscribers for more than three years) were heavier ad skippers than more recent converts. There's no discernable difference in the levels of time shifting or ad skipping between the two groups, he said.

But much of the specific ad skipping varies by demographic. For example, the May PowerWatch data indicated that viewing for children's skincare products in homes with children under 12 was 37 percent greater than in homes with adults 50-plus. Ads for toys and games had 22 percent more viewing in homes with children under 12. By contrast, political ads had 15 percent more viewing in the homes with adults 50-plus, while ads for hair restoration products and wigs had 10 percent more viewing in those homes.

"If you have an ad that is relevant, you are more likely to pay attention," said Juenger. "Commercial skipping is not as random as some people think and there are clear differences by demographic group."

Charter PowerWatch client Starcom agrees. "New viewing behaviors revealed by correlations between household demographic, product category and ad fast-forwarding shows that while everyone is fast-forwarding through ads, effective message delivery can help make an ad resonate more," said Tracey Scheppach, svp, video innovation director at Starcom.