The partnership between Yahoo! and TiVo will allow the latter’s users to record programs from their PCs. This not only gives TiVo users an easier search and browse interface than their remote control offers, but it will also bring more users into the Yahoo! universe of offerings by introducing TiVo users to Yahoo!’s TV listings. The company hopes this will serve as a gateway to its other properties, as the name of the game for search portals these days is to attract users. Features are the carrot.
TiVo already has a similar deal with AOL, so this isn’t anything groundbreaking. But a second part of the deal got my attention because of its implications for local: The partnership will be expanded in the next few months to have TiVo boxes store photos and other content from Yahoo! and call up local traffic and weather information through the television interface.
Traffic and weather aren’t the most easily monetized content, but it is a good first step to get users accustomed to using their televisions to search for local information. Yahoo! knows this and wants to get into the game early. Monetizable directional advertising could follow — a point that is explored more in depth in the recent TKG White Paper, "From Reach to Targeting: The Transformation of TV in the Internet Age.
TiVo currently has a feature where some ads for upcoming shows include an icon in the corner of the screen that signals users to push a button if they€™d like to schedule a recording of that show. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine this feature in the context of product ads, where a button is pressed to research or purchase a product. Furthermore, the expanded channel choices of television’s next generation (IPTV) is expected to open up vast advertising inventory. This will have a long-tail effect, which will give local and SME advertisers affordable and targeted advertising opportunities on television — much like search engine marketing has given them on the Web.
IPTV isn’t here yet, but TiVo is. Yahoo will be the first to migrate local search across the living room to TiVo box, and Microsoft has a television division hard at work developing the software that will run IPTV systems and search interfaces.
Others will follow.