Amex and Others Aim for Leads Via New TiVo Direct Response Division

TiVo subscribers can now use their TV remotes to receive information on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Freestyle Cruising, or dial a special phone number to find out about Bank of America’s mortgage products. The digital video recording firm has created a new direct response advertising division within its sales department to facilitate deals with advertisers of financial services, pharmaceuticals and luxury goods. To get its direct response division off the ground, TiVo has been working with direct response media agency WorldLink Ventures and brought in a new senior sales director to handle the relationship.

“It’s just a matter of the sales efforts growing,” said TiVo SVP of Advertising Sales Karen Bressner of the Interactive Direct Response Advertising Group launch.

Until now, brand advertisers like automakers have looked to TiVo to help connect them to interested buyers through TiVo’s ongoing advertising relationships with agencies such as Interpublic Group, WPP’s GroupM and Omnicom Media Group. Bressner called the extension of ad formats such as interactive commercial tags to direct response-oriented advertisers a “natural one in the TiVo environment.”

The company allows subscribers to its TV recording service to click on tags appearing over television commercials, or check out the “showcases” section of the interface and opt-in to receive additional information about advertisers’ products and services. Currently, financial services firms like American Express and Progressive Insurance present offers to TiVo users within the ad showcase area, providing brief text descriptions and special numbers to call for more information; Norwegian Cruise Line is using the service so users can simply click a button to have information sent to them about laid back Freestyle Cruising vacations.

Since consumers must opt-in to receive more information, “it’s not a passive medium,” said Bressner. “That’s one of the key things.” This new set of advertisers isn’t always making an immediate sale through the TiVo ads; sometimes they’re garnering sales leads. Bressner agreed the service is similar to lead generation, adding if users request more information from an advertiser, TiVo provides contact information. The DVR firm does not sell lists of subscriber data, she stressed.

In addition to financial services companies, Bressner anticipates interest from pharma advertisers that need to provide extensive information on drug brands. For example, they may use TiVo’s program placement format to sponsor the end of a medical show or emergency room drama. In that case, users would be able to view information about a product before deleting a recorded show they’ve just watched.

“Pharma is a very large category we’re getting a lot of inquiries about…because [they] tend to have more to say,” said Bressner.

“Overriding across multiple categories… will be anything that’s sort of higher-end, a more expensive product,” she continued.

Reporting directly to Bressner will be Robert Barnett, who was just hired to head up the new direct response ad group as its senior director. Barnett is charged with managing TiVo’s relationship with WorldLink.

According to Bressner, TiVo continues to maintain relationships with Interpublic, GroupM and Omnicom, agencies it formed deals with last year to connect with brand advertisers.

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