What's a TiVo or Wink enhanced ad? Are you getting stuck in the quicksand of TV technology terms? Here's some help for the technologically challenged:
Personal video recorders, such as the TiVo brand, are like a VCR. But instead of cumbersome tapes, PVRs download 10 to 30 hours of TV programming onto an internal hard drive. The devices are hooked up to a phone line and offer a pop-up screen on which consumers can select their own programming. For instance, viewers can program their own cooking channel, gardening channel or James Bond movie channel.
What is making advertisers nervous is a 30-second 'quick skip' fast-forward button on one brand of PVR that allows users to skip the commercials. TiVo also has a fast-forward button, which allows viewers to race through commercials they way they can now with VCRs.
Interactive TV marries Internet and cable technology with the TV screen. There are two types of ITV. One type, such as the Wink enhanced ad, allows viewers to use a remote control to communicate with an advertiser through software imbedded in a cable box. Customers can tell an automaker or dealer if they would like more information or brochures. Typically, the cable company or satellite company puts this technology in the consumer's box for free.
The other type of ITV service is a paid service with which, in addition to communicating with advertisers, consumers can browse the Web on their TV screens. The leading company for these types of broadcasts is Microsoft's Web TV in Mountain View, Calif., with 900,000 households as subscribers.
Six auto advertisers have placed or are currently running interactive TV spots on Web TV: Ford, GM, Nissan, Volvo, Honda and Mercedes-Benz. Six companies or divisions have placed or are currently running ads on the Web TV Web site welcome screen: Ford, GM, GM of Canada, Oldsmobile, Toyota and Volvo.