TiVo backed itself into a corner because its technology was too good. For the first time, television viewers could record shows and, when playing them back, skip commercials entirely – one of the giant pains when using a VCR.
TiVo won no friends in the industry built on commercials, and competitors immediately launched a two-prong war to develop similar technology and to sue TiVo out of existence. So, it comes as little surprise that, as it fights for its life, TiVo announced that it would launch a service that allows its users to search for specific advertisers and advertisements, according to this Reuters story:
The advertising service will let subscribers search for a product by category or keyword, then TiVo would deliver matching commercials to the consumer’s set-top box.
For the first nine years of my journalism career, I did very little thinking about advertising and revenues – a common trait I share, I believe, with the vast majority of my news brethren. Now, I do very little else besides think about how to make money in a digital age.
I won’t say that mixing thoughts of advertising into the daily world of journalism is my favorite endeavor, but I can honestly say that the technologies behind how advertising is driven in a digital space excite me – and, as odd as it sounds, having a commercial library at my fingertips (a la TiVo) is enticing. In a world where people want information when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it, it’s quite plausible to me that viewers will seek out commercials for certain types of industries (food and electronics jump to mind).
It will be even more interesting when tagging comes to this TiVo database, giving viewers the opportunity to label and share their thoughts with social networks.