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TiVo plans to collect, sell viewer information

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Bloomberg News / November 9, 2007

NEW YORK - TiVo Inc., the pioneer of digital video recorders, plans to start selling information to advertisers about subscribers' ages, incomes, ethnicity, and viewing habits.

TiVo, which allows users to record TV programs and fast-forward through commercials, is offering the data to help advertisers target specific consumers. Twenty-thousand households volunteered for the program, called "Power Watch," TiVo said yesterday.

People with DVRs skip 60 to 65 percent of commercials, said Todd Juenger, vice president of research and measurement for TiVo.

"The magic is what commercials are being watched and what's different about those commercials," Juenger said. "Every creative director in the country wants to know if his or her advertising campaign is being skipped."

TiVo will pool viewer information that also includes gender, marital status, the presence of children, location, how long they have been subscribers, and how they receive TV service. TiVo won't collect data on subscribers who choose not to participate, Juenger said.

"They should be confident we don't know hardly anything about them unless they say it's OK," he said.

Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA, a media-buying firm, is the first company to participate in the service and will be able to ask a panel of TiVo users questions about the ads.

"It helps us understand media placement," said Tracey Scheppach, a senior vice president and video innovations director at Starcom. The program will enable Starcom to figure out whether it's better to place commercials at the beginning or end of an ad segment.

TiVo introduced second-by-second measurements of digital viewing in July.

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