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Schedule TiVo Recording from Yahoo!

Users of Tivo who either have or are willing to sign up for a Yahoo! account can now schedule recording remotely from any web browser. While there is some lag time due to the way that the Tivo device polls the Tivo service for information, I can see how this would be extremely useful.

An article on ZDNet implies that further content sharing might be in the works, such as weather, finance, news, etc. But what I find interesting is that now a certain populations TV viewing habits are potentially linked to their online habits. TiVo always had the capability to observe their users' viewing habits, and Yahoo of course has the ability to track web surfers' habits throughout the Yahoo properties (and eventually through sites in the Yahoo Publisher ad network?). It seems like a reasonable idea to begin building marketing profiles based on this linkage. Have the online ads served to a user be congruent with the messaging delivered via television advertising and vice versa.

The one-to-many communication model of broadcasting does not lend itself to that kind of tracking and customization, but we're entering the age of one-to-one communication models. Online sites are getting intelligent enough to target individuals as well as populations. Now, with PVR/DVR and VOD applications coming into an increasing number of homes, watching television becomes a two-way communication process.

As I've pointed out before, you can't not communicate. Companies such as TiVo and perhaps Comcast have a huge opportunity to begin listening to the communications implicit in channel surfing behavior... done right, this could greatly enhance the television viewer's experience in ways similar to how Google is credited with helping web advertising along with contextual ads.

I'm not just talking about logging what programs are watched at what times. The conversation could include how quickly someone skips past a channel when surfing the dial, what specifically is showing when the channel is changed, whether a program is viewed in its entirety and if not, precisely when its turned off and from there, the users' destination channel, volume settings getting changed, etc.  These behaviors might not make any kind of easily discernable pattern when observed at an individual level, but taken in aggregate there might be patterns emerging, just as we've found with online habits. Even Google has discussed the possible implications of microbehaviors (even typing behavior!) to web marketing.

The continuing trend to make television two-way, combined with online profiling, could target advertising well enough that in the same way Google has increased ad effectiveness through less annoying, context-sensitive ads, so could Yahoo!/TiVo do something similar with more relevant television advertising.  We're a long way off from that (as TiVo merely records what ads are broadcast already by television networks) but it seems to be technologically feasible and if the money's there, perhaps inevitable.

Posted on November 9, 2005 | Permalink | Tag this post with del.icio.us | This Post Now Lives Here


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