With TiVo's recently announced plans to sell data about what people watch, it appears that TV and advertising execs are in denial about what the data might tell them. The initial data seems pretty clear: many people don't watch commercials. This sort of information is very valuable for advertisers, but it's bad news for advertising agencies and TV execs - whose business models are partly based on the idea that it's impossible to measure how successful a TV ad campaign is - so you're better off buying more ad time, rather than better targeting your ads. The TV and ad execs all seem to think that TiVo's data isn't really indicative of anything, since the sample size is too small - but it won't always be that way. Plus, it's pretty clear that most people do use TiVo to skip over commercials. Some of the more interesting findings, though, are how ad skipping differs based on the show. Prime time sitcoms - a target for many advertisers, rarely have people watching the ads. They almost always record the shows, and blast through the ads at a later date. However, reality TV shows, awards shows, and other shows that either are live, or have some suspense involved, more people try to watch live - and thus end up watching the commercials. In other words, here's yet another reason for TV execs to ditch sitcoms, and put more reality TV on in primetime. Also, all of this ignores the quality of advertising. As the recent Honda commercial hype showed, people will actively seek out good advertising. It's the bad advertising that gets no attention.
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