GM Backs TiVos Addressable-Ad Venture


General Motors Corp., the latest national marketer
positioning itself for the addressable-advertising era, signed on last week as the first
charter advertiser in TiVo Inc.'s forthcoming "TiView"
personalized-television service.

GM and GM Cyberworks, the unit "leading the
automaker's charge into new-media applications," have been in discussions with
TiVo for nearly one year, said Ed MacBeth, TiVo's vice president of marketing and
business development.

GM's name first leaked out in September. Neither it
nor TiVo would get into dollars or the duration of this deal.

This customized-viewing service requires a box that Philips
Consumer Electronics Co. will bring to retail late in the first quarter.

TiView -- which offers VCR-like features such as pausing,
fast-forwarding, rewinding and time-shifting for up to 30 hours of stored programming at a
time -- will start at $499 for the 10-hour storage unit, MacBeth said. In addition there
will be a $9.99-per-month subscription fee.

By Christmas season, Philips plans to sell TV sets with
built-in TiView capability, adding $200 to a set's price tag.

GM has been participating in ongoing field trials involving
SunTel Communications LLC, a Silicon Valley cable operator, since last year.

TiVo has been talking with numerous MSOs about ways to
merge its system with forthcoming digital set-top boxes, MacBeth said, but so far, only
satellite service DirecTV Inc. has committed.

"TiVo will be spending this year with GM piloting a
lot of capabilities and testing them for consumer response," he said. Among these
will be:

• Addressable advertising: TiVo, for instance, can
store five GM spots and, instead of the Geo spot that'll run on Ally McBeal
nationally, the No. 1 automaker could insert a spot for a Corvette, a Cadillac Seville or
a Chevy Suburban to target viewers in specific upscale ZIP codes, MacBeth said.

GM's Chevrolet unit has been doing similar targeting
via Adlink, the Los Angeles interconnect, but MacBeth maintained that TiVo's
targeting is more addressable since it can be done "household-to-household, instead
of headend-to-headend."

• Interactivity: For TiVo's so-called active ads,
a prompt is inserted that allows viewers to use their remote to request more product
information. They can also buy a product -- although he quickly said TiVo's
shop-at-home, or "couch-commerce," ability is "probably not relevant with a

TiVo recently announced deals with such networks as Home
Box Office, Showtime, The Weather Channel, ZDTV and E! Entertainment Television and its
Style spinoff, MacBeth said.

In those cases, TiVo can program a movie for viewers who
have indicated, via TiVo's "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" button, that they would
like to see it when it premieres.

The viewer-profile data -- compiled from consumers'
viewing and purchase preferences -- are given to clients only in aggregate so as to
maintain privacy, MacBeth emphasized.