While not directly related to interactive kiosks or digital signs, I couldn't ignore the recent flurry of TiVo-related articles coming over the wire at MediaPost lately. Four articles written over a period of just five days (Gurus Fast-Forward DVRs: See Passive TV Viewing, Changes In Ad Placements, Following Arbitron's Heave-Ho, IRI Strikes Deal With TiVo: Tracks Ads In DVR Homes, Nielsen's Local DVR Plan: Measure Digital TV Viewing Via Paper Diaries, and Magna: Nielsen Data An 'Eye-Opener,' Reveals Ravages Of DVRs Over Time) suggests to me that the media folks are scrambling to make sense of a new set of data about how TiVo--and digital video recorder (DVR) users in general--change the way that they consume media. Everybody from ACNielsen to Arbitron has their hand in the data, and depending on which report you read or who you ask, DVRs are either the greatest or the worst thing to happen to media companies and the advertisers that they depend on. Among the things that scare Madison Avenue executives are quotes like this:
the biggest eye-poppers outlined in Sternberg's report isn't the fact
that DVR owners watch fewer TV commercials than non-DVR owners, but
that they watch increasingly fewer commercials the longer they own
'About 56 percent of those who've had a DVR for less
than a year say they always fast-forward commercials when watching
recorded shows. This rises to 72 percent among people who've had a DVR
for a year or longer.'"
However, media heavyweights aren't quite ready to throw in the towel just yet. As Jen Soch, Associate Media Director at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest unit notes, they are planning for a day when, "[commercial]
pods will be gone, as advertising will be sold in blocks," Soch said at
the conference, which was held at the New York Marriott Financial
Center. 'TV will come to resemble a magazine, where consumers no longer
just 'watch' TV, but 'consume' TV through the choices of programming
that they will decide to make.'"
How does this relate to
digital retailing? Well, the biggest complaint from media
companies isn't the loss of revenue from DVR users fast-forwarding
through commercials (though that's certainly on their minds).
What really concerns them is that currently there is no good way to
measure the impact of DVR users. Nobody is generating compliance
reports, and new efforts (from high-tech digital compliance records to
low-tech paper diaries) are just getting underway. But the thirst
for reporting information is something that many digital signage and
interactive kiosk solution providers are well aware of. In fact,
it's one of our biggest competitive advantages and differentiators over
traditional media channels. Using a package like FireCast software for kiosks and digital signage, it's possible to create detailed playback records for a single piece of content or a whole media campaign.
I don't think we'll ever see advertisers pulling out of TV altogether
to focus on dynamic signage or interactive digital retailing
techniques, many firms are already supplementing their traditional
media campaigns with these types of systems. And if the
cable/broadcast TV compliance question can't be satisfactorily
answered, we could see even more explosive growth in this sector.