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Surprising Ways DVRs Change Audience Behavior

051026_2As usage of TiVo and other DVRs have spread, so has the anecdotal information about how they are used. The equipment manufacturers have some proprietary information about their usage, but advertisers have had trouble comparing the behavior with non-users and catching up with the overall trends. Now more information is coming out and it's not exactly what we all expected. If you subscribe to the WSJ, I recommend the whole article, which includes usage forecasts. - The Small Screen by Joe Flint (subscription required)

Although more people are skipping ads, the fact that these machines bring more viewers to shows is ultimately good for both the networks and advertisers. Mr. Poltrack's research notes that the potential exposure for programs can be huge. His 2004 study on DVRs showed, for example, that there were almost 10 million additional viewers of "CSI" beyond the 25.6 million who watch it in its regular time slot every week. Even if the majority of those additional potential viewers skip ads, those that do watch them are gravy for networks and marketers.

All of this creates huge challenges for advertisers. Andrew Robertson, chief executive of Omnicom Group Inc.'s BBDO Worldwide, whose clients include Pepsi, eBay and Federal Express, says DVRs are making it even easier for consumers to become disengaged. "It definitely takes more creativity," he says. But when an ad is compelling, he adds, the DVR can be a plus. BBDO's Pepsi ad featuring Britney Spears that ran during the Super Bowl a few years ago, for example, was replayed more than the last-minute, game-winning play.