While TV execs and advertisers whined and complained about the "threat" of TiVo and TiVo-like PVR systems, TiVo has consistently been trying to come up with new ways to get advertising out to users. Back in 2001, for example, I thought they came up with the fairly creative solution of having their "Win a Lexus" sweepstakes, which required a viewer to answer a series of multiple choice questions about Lexus that were answered in various commercials that the TiVo automatically saved for you. Not much seems to have come from that one experiment, but now they're getting ready to make advertisements more interactive by letting TiVo users "click through" on ads that display a special icon. They'll then be taken to more in-depth ad content. This makes some sense, since the content will only be available to those who clearly expressed an interest in learning more. Still, there are some challenges. The networks need to broadcast the icons, and they're mostly unwilling to do so without some sort of cut from TiVo (especially the non-NBC stations, since NBC is an investor in TiVo). There's also the (very reasonable) fear that users may get upset if too much of their hard-drive space is taken up by forced ads, instead of the content they wanted to download. Of course, this could be solved by giving recorded programs priority over ad content. If someone needs to record more programming content, just have it overwrite the ad content. Still, whether or not this particular trial succeeds, it's good to see that they're trying to come up with other business models, and dragging the television industry along with them.
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