Google to track TiVo viewing habits

A new partnership between the two companies will help Google determine how TiVo owners--even the ones really good at fast-forwarding--still see some ads.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read

Google wants to know more about how TiVo owners are exposed to commercials. TiVo

Google and TiVo know you accidentally watch a few ads while fast-forwarding through the commercial breaks of your recorded programs, and they'd like a little more data to back that up.

Google plans to add TiVo "television viewing data" to its existing Google TV Ads program, the two companies said in a press release Tuesday. Google TV Ads is the company's attempt to re-create its AdWords and AdSense model on the small screen through a partnership with Dish Network, and it wants to use TiVo data to help its advertising clients measure how and when their ads are viewed.

DVRs like TiVo are not the favorite tech product of the television advertising business, as they allow viewers to watch shows whenever they like and skip the commercials. But most DVR owners (except for a few masters of the remote control) catch glimpses of ads as they whiz by, or overshoot the end of the commercial period and hit the 30-second rewind button, exposing them to the last ad shown before the program resumes.

That kind of viewing shouldn't count as a full ad impression, since the advertiser knows the viewer didn't watch the full ad, but Google seems to feel that it can't be completely ignored, either. It plans to use "anonymous second-by-second DVR viewing data" to track how viewers see ads placed through Google TV Ads. It also gives Google more access to viewer behavior on sources outside of Dish Network, including cable, satellite, and over-the-air viewers.

That could presumably make Google TV Ads more attractive to potential advertisers, since Google will be able to assemble a wealth of data on the viewing habits of DVR owners. Google also has a deal with Nielsen for viewing data, although some feel the new TiVo partnership will put a lot of strain on that relationship.

In a somewhat related move, TiVo has also partnered with MillerCoors to expose football fans to Coors Light ads when they are fast-forwarding through recorded NFL games.