iVo is coming soon to a home near you.
The Yankee Group has predicted that within three years, one in five
Americans will own TiVo or some other brand of digital video
recorder (DVR). Whether you are among that 20% or not, the DVR
trend will likely have an effect on you and your business.
To make a long story short (something TiVo was invented to do),
DVRs allow consumers to a skip portions of programming they don't
want to see. And, for the most part, what they don't want to see --
I hope you're sitting down -- are commercials.
There can be as many as 20 minutes of commercials in an hour
segment of television, and with TiVo, a viewer can, at 9:20 p.m.,
begin to watch a show that started at 9 p.m., and by skipping the
commercials finish up at 10 p.m. -- just as the program is ending
in real time.
Not surprisingly, those who sell television advertising are
Or rather, most are. The rise of DVRs seems to affect every area
of television advertising except beer and prescription drugs.
According to CNW Marketing Research, beer commercials are so
entertaining that viewers actually want to see them, and
prescription drug ads are so informative that viewers feel
compelled to watch them.
It means, however, that travel ads are being TiVo'd over. That
has industry marketers scratching their heads. The macro trend in
travel marketing over the past nine years has been away from
intermediaries and toward consumer direct.
If video advertising becomes less effective because fewer and
fewer people watch it, will intermediary sales channels begin to
look more attractive as a means to reach the public?
Not necessarily. Airlines already are making overtures to
agents, and many other travel companies that advertise heavily on
television, such as cruise lines and all-inclusives, are already
strongly committed to agency distribution.
But all sales channels may benefit in another way. As
traditional television advertising execs feel heat from DVRs, they
are exploring other means to use television as a commercial
In a separate phenomenon, the blurred line between advertising
and entertainment has reached new heights. It started with simple
product placement, but today, paid-for embedded brand promotion has
made its way into prime-time scripts and story lines.
As an example, one of the sponsors of the reality show "The
Restaurant" is American Express, and one of the "real" characters
on the show turns to Amex's small business units to help him solve
a business problem.
It's useful to remember that the granddaddy of all embedded
product campaigns was a travel-related program: "The Love
And though it ceased production 18 years ago, Princess Cruises
is still reaping the benefits -- just last month, the actress who
played the fictional daughter of the fictional Captain Stubing was
named godmother of the Caribbean Princess.
When brands are knitted into programming, all sales channels
benefit, along with the brand. And unless a character says, "Don't
bother going online or calling a travel agent to book -- just call
(800) 555-1212," there is no distribution chain bias.
I predict it won't be long before we see yet another development
in the world of television advertising: Advertisers paying other
advertisers for product placement. If viewers are still watching
beer and prescription drug ads, I can think of a dozen travel
products that would pay to serve as the setting for a Budweiser
commercial -- and even a few that might want to strike a deal with
the makers of Viagra.