Google Taps TiVo for TV Ad Data

Google said today that it will improve the precision of its TV Ads system through a new deal with TiVo that will give the search giant access to viewing data from 1.6 million TiVo DVRs. The “second-by-second” information will enable Google to learn which ads are being watched, which ones are being skipped, and when users are changing the channel. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The TiVo data will augment information that Google already collects as part of a partnership with DISH Network, for whom the company also sells local ad inventory. Combined with the data from 4 million Dish set-top boxes, the information from TiVo will give Google a clearer picture as to which ads are being watched by subscribers to its DVR service.

After about a year of testing, Google TV Ads was officially launched 18 months ago to make the TV ad-buying process easier for business that don’t have huge marketing budgets, allowing them to create and upload ads into the auction-based system. Because Google’s TV Ads auction system is based on impressions rather than on pure reach, advertisers only pay when their ads have been viewed.

In addition to its deal with DISH, Google agreed to a “multi-year advertising, research and technology partnership” with NBC last year that made ad inventory available on cable networks such as CNBC, MSNBC, Oxygen and SyFy. Google is also working with the Hallmark Channel, the Game Show Network, Outdoor Channel, Ovation TV and Sky Angel, among others. Altogether, Google says it’s served more than 100 billion ad impressions through the system.

For TiVo, the deal comes at a time when it’s hemorrhaging customers and struggling to maintain its hardware-based DVR business. It’s subsequently trying to leverage its IP, software platform and research data in an effort to add additional revenue streams.

The company was recently awarded $200 million in a patent suit with Dish and EchoStar, and is also going after Verizon and AT&T for DVR patent infringement. Meanwhile, it’s struck licensing deals with Best Buy and Comcast to port its software into their connected devices and set-top boxes. It also sells data gleaned from its users as part of its Stop/Watch and Power/Watch ratings services.

The question remains whether these efforts can offset the loss of customers and revenue that TiVo is seeing in its core business. But we should know more soon enough, as the company reports earnings after market close this afternoon.

Google has fought hard to gain traction in the TV ad space. It will be interesting to see if the addition of more set-top data will translate into more deals for its TV Ads service.

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