TiVo Sells Pause-Menu Ads


TiVo, pioneer of the linear-ad-skipping DVR, is looking to make money by selling its own ads that appear when users hit the pause button.

The company said it has signed two initial sponsors for the “Pause Menu” ads: Mercedes-Benz USA, which will promote its GLK sports-utility vehicle in early 2009 by targeting football viewers, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which plans to promote the DVD release of Dr Seuss' Horton Hears a Who on Dec. 9.

Promotions on the Pause Menu will be displayed as a single line of text. Another line will link the viewer directly to TiVo's Universal Swivel Search, allowing users to find related shows and other information. The new feature is available to TiVo Series2 subscribers.

Pause Menu ads can be displayed on the pause screen of a live or time-shifted program, and TiVo will offer options to target genres or keywords.

According to TiVo, its research has found that linking the Pause Menu to the Swivel Search feature gets “very positive viewer reaction.”

But not everyone reacted positively. Home-electronics blogger Dave Zatz, in a post last week, pointed out that TiVo is losing subscribers “and should proceed cautiously in the ways (and frequency) that they spam us. After all, their ability to pitch ads will diminish should their customer base continue to shrink.”

TiVo had 3.46 million total subscribers as of Oct. 31, down 15% from 4.07 million a year earlier.