TiVo and Best Buy Launch New Ad Format

LOS ANGELES–TiVo and its distribution partner Best Buy will debut a new advertising format next week designed to encourage greater interaction between advertiser and consumer.

Announced Wednesday night at a press conference at the Charles Aidikoff Screening Room in Beverly Hills, Calif., the format allows TiVo subscribers to “opt in” via remote control for branded entertainment.

“We knew, going into this three years ago, that this was going to be a disruptive technology,” said Morgan Guenther, president of TiVo in San Jose, Calif. He noted the potential for ad-skipping and the fear that digital video recorders would mean “the death of the 30-second spot,” and said advertising would have to change and become more meaningful so that consumers would watch the commercials.

As the first advertiser to test out the new format, Best Buy is using its “Go Mobile” campaign, which promotes products like PDAs and cell phones and is launching May 20, to encourage TiVo subscribers to stick around for advertiser-created content.

The 30-second “Go Mobile” spots, scheduled to run on MTV and VH1, will offer TiVo subscribers the chance to click on a “thumbs up” button on their remote control.

From there, subscribers will be sent to a “Video Showcase” area, where they can watch behind-the-scenes jam sessions with Sheryl Crow, featuring two new singles from her new album, C’mon, C’mon. They can also use their remote control for a chance to receive a free copy of the new CD, and watch a series of vignettes of varying lengths that offer tongue-in-cheek tips for achieving “electronic feng shui” with Best Buy’s “Go Mobile” products. For instance, one spot shows a bird and an outdoor birdcage. A voiceover says: “Do not keep caged birds. Allow them freedom.” It also urges viewers not to call birds on their cell phones. Minneapolis-based Jambalaya worked with Best Buy to develop the content.

“When I first heard about TiVo it scared me a little bit,” said Mollie Weston, manager of broadcast strategy for Best Buy in Minneapolis. “But there’s an opportunity for consumers to spend more time with our brand and we have to be innovative [to] reach consumers.”

With its so-called “advertainment” capabilities, TiVo is now enabling viewers to enter sweepstakes or request information. The company is also promising marketers near real-time audience measurement data, including when the content was viewed and how often.