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Google's Reach Hits Your Tivo 98

Posted by timothy
from the no-more-intestinal-products-please dept.
accido writes "As reported by The LA Times, Google has now decided to expand its marketing and data collection to include what you watch on your Tivo. The data collected would help Google, who sells TV ads, show who watches which commercials and who skips right over them. The article outlines how this could be bad for networks that cash in whether you watch the ad or not. Does this mean fewer commercials for viewers? Not likely, but one can hope."
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Google's Reach Hits Your Tivo

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  • Whether, not weather (Score:2, Informative)

    by puppetman (131489)

    Rain has nothing to do with this.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Rain has nothing to do with this.

      I don't know, I'd like some cash in weather. As long as it was bills. Coins dropping on us from miles up would hurt.

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Rain has nothing to do with this.

      No, but if your cable is down and you have crappy reception, all that snow might make you tempted to watch something you Tivo'd

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        *Regardless* of whether I have good reception or crappy reception, I want to watch something I Tivoed.. even if just paused for 15 minutes to avoid the ads for something I need to watch "close to live" (which is rare).

  • Of Tivo users skip commercials. I'm sure the other 1% either don't know they have Tivo, don't know how to use Tivo, or watch so much television that their mental capacity to understand the concept of skipping commercials has been severely damaged.

    • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @07:19PM (#30231710)

      Some of us watch commericals on YouTube for comedic value. To be fair, it's usually vintage ones (Try refreshing Ayds to lose weight! Ayds helped me lose 15 lbs!)

    • Re:I'm sure 99% (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @07:50PM (#30231894) Homepage
      Actually, the commercials are the best part of TV. They are innovative, have high production values, and basically all the stops are pulled out to make sure they're effective.

      The shows, on the other hand, are usually terrible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Artraze (600366)

        That's true, in part, but the difficulty is that I don't get to choose what commercials I watch. So even though there are some truly horrific shows out there, I just don't watch them. Even if the worst commercial ever produced is only 1/10 as bad, it could still play during a show I do watch, therefore exposing me to it (unless I have a DVR). Therefore, of what I see (rather than TV in general) commercials are usually the worst part. And that's not even getting in to how repetitive they become...

      • well not all commercials Ask Gary [youtube.com]
      • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

        I often enjoy commercials the first time I see them. By the fifteenth time (or worse, second time in one commercial break - curse your advertising directors, CBC!), I am utterly sick of them and wish they'd never been made. Except for that one [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QW3bInxgmc]Subaru Canada ad[/url]. I'm still not tired of that one.

              --- Mr. DOS

        • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

          Oh wow... too much foruming. I sincerely apologize for the BBCode; should I hand in my card on the way out?

                --- Mr. DOS

        • I often enjoy commercials the first time I see them. By the fifteenth time (or worse, second time in one commercial break - curse your advertising directors, CBC!), I am utterly sick of them and wish they'd never been made....

          Point. It's the reruns that make commercials boring.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gamecrusader (1684024)

      I've have used tivo for over 3 years and tivo has commercials that can't be fast fowarded through.
      though they rarely come up, but they do exsist

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        What in the heck are you talking about?

        There are 'ads' that show up at the bottom of the first menu (usually called 'star ads') that the user has to specifically go to.. There are nowadays, sometimes, ads that show up under the time banner when you hit pause.. but you can just hit 'down' to make them go away or hit the clear button (like always) to clear all onscreen displays..

        You need to provide a citation for "commercials that can't be fast forwarded through".

    • What advertisers need are more events, like the Superbowl, where it becomes cool to watch commercials. Or do what most Internet sites have done and go with the 15 sec commercial spot instead of the 30 - 60 sec spot.
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      I think that's a bit optimistic.

      99% might "fast forward" through them. Although actual commercial "skip" is a special hack you enable yourself.

      When this was undone every time the unit cycled power, I was the only one in my household that could handle putting the hack back in place. It's an obscure set of commands sent through the remote that requires a bit of a "knack" to get right.

      Even with 30-second skip, you still need to pay attention and know when to stop skipping. There's still an opportunity for some

  • by Wrexs0ul (515885) <mmeier@rack[ ]e.com ['nin' in gap]> on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @07:11PM (#30231650) Homepage

    The article outlines how this could be bad for Networks who cash in weather you watch the ad or not

    They have ads there too? Sunny and a 50% chance of Cialis?

    I wonder when this arms race for our eyeballs will peak. I'm not angry with targeted ads, overall it makes for a smarter consumer when after a generation or two we learn to identify market-speak at the cost of the last company to the block's poorly-spent campaign. In the mean time there's a greater likelihood I'll chance across something that is actually valuable to me, or a funny Geico ad :)

    -Matt

    • In the mean time there's a greater likelihood I'll chance across something that is actually valuable to me, or a funny Geico ad :)

      So... what happens in the nice time? Hey, if you're going to make terrible puns about typos your posts are fair game ;)

    • They have ads there too? Sunny and a 50% chance of Cialis?

      Typical, the weatherman *always* says a 50% chance...of course it is...chaos theory. Wait a minute, was I just advertised to?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dysphoric1 (1641793)

      In the mean time there's a greater likelihood I'll chance across something that is actually valuable to me

      In all honesty, I don't think I have ever seen an ad that was of value to me. Maybe I'm just weird or something, but I start with a need and then seek out a solution in a product or service to fulfill it, usually through reviews and such. I never see an ad and then suddenly decide I need the product or service.

      Never mind. I forgot about porn.

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        You've *never* seen a new item advertised for a restaurant that you then tried out (at some point)?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by camperdave (969942)
      ...or a funny Geico ad :)

      This one [youtube.com] is my favorite.
      • true..the geico ads are hilarious, but you know what? i never thought about switching my insurance to geico. every time the commercial starts i'd be thinking "oh great, it's that funny little gecko again, this should be good" instead of "how much are they going to save me this time? should i check it out?"

        so that begs the question..can a commercial be so good it's bad?
        Does too good a commercial, i.e. clever, funny, intriguing, hurt the message the advertiser is trying to send by distracting the viewer with

  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @07:12PM (#30231656) Homepage Journal
    Why not just set up mythtv and have it auto-extract?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    These days, is there anyone left who does NOT block all these data collection and tracking things?

    The trouble is that they invent them fast enough that it's hard to keep up. Web bugs, cross site scripts, I block everything I know about, but it takes a little bit of diligence to keep up with it. And some, like TIVO, you can see coming a mile off, so are easy to never start using in the first place.

    If we don't stick up for a shit-free internet, soon it will all be commercialized into uselessness. TV 2.0!

    Th

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      These days, is there anyone left who does NOT block all these data collection and tracking things?

      Most people. They either don't understand, or don't care.

  • by al0ha (1262684) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @07:36PM (#30231828) Journal
    a big pant-load of results based on guessing what the analyzed data means.

    For example, I usually skip commercials. Sometimes when I am multi-tasking thus only half-watching I forget to skip the commercials, but I am not watching them either. And so on...

    One thing I know for sure, I picked the wrong business, weathermen and marketing analysis experts amount to the same thing; getting paid for guessing with no repercussions for being wrong. A perfect job!
    • by geekoid (135745)

      weathermen are pretty accurate most of the time, and the fact that we live in a world of 10 day forecasting is pretty amazing I remember when 3 day forecasting was cutting edge.

      Atheism isn't dogma. People posit there is a God(S) with no proof and claim he has certian rules, that's dogma.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @07:37PM (#30231832) Journal
    If I was suddenly forced to watch commercials (i.e. no 30 second skip and/or no fast forward) I'd probably dump cable and just watch what I can get on Netflix instead. It would be sad though because there are down-times during the latter parts of my evenings when it's too early to go to bed but I'm too tired to do anything else and I want something passive and relatively low-bandwidth brainpower-wise to do in the meantime, and the few shows TiVo records for me are perfect for that.
  • ..Google will "team up" me to extract info from my mythbackend.

    Tivo was cool in its day, but part of the reason I modernized was to take total control. It's mine, all mine, and if you want a piece, you talk to me. This is why I fuckin' love Free Software.

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Uhh, you have control with a Tivo.. You tell it what to record. What in the heck are you talking about?

      People have been able to withdraw from the *ANONYMOUS* data collection for as long as it's been done.

      Can you even record from digital channels without manually recording the output of a cable box? Multiple tuners? OTA?

      Yes, I think there *is* room for something better than Tivo, I just haven't seen anyone come close *in total* yet. (I didn't like the lack of features regarding lack of editing or multi-s

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > Uhh, you have control with a Tivo.. You tell it what to record. What in the heck are you talking about?

        The Tivo decides what it will send back to the mothership.

        The Tivo will decide whether or not you can copy something from room to room or your iPod.

        The Tivo will decide whether or not commercial skipping is allowed.

        The Tivo will decide whether recording is allowed at all.

        Being unsure to what degree Tivo Corp was in bed with the content
        providers I wanted their technology to work against was one of the
        b

  • Yeah, look where that's gotten us.

  • get a mythtv (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan667 (564390) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @07:57PM (#30231950)
    then it just skips commercials without even needing a remote button push and invasion of privacy like this.
    • by kregg (1619907)
      have you got it working, doesn't work for me...
      • by mkendall (69179)

        It works pretty well most of the time for me. There are several algorithms used for program break detection. The ones that seem to work best are blank frame detection and station logo detection. I find it works well on Discovery, A&E, CBC Newsworld and Speed TV (blank frames), and AMC and other movie channels (logo detection down in the black letterbox bars). It works passably on network TV but tends to get a bit confused when they run the final seconds of the show and the credits in a sidebar next to s

        • by Dan667 (564390)
          Wow, I had to go back a look, because mine just works. It almost always detects all the commercials on all stations. The algorithm that it uses is the combo blank frame / station logo / everything else. Works great.
  • I spend way too much money on cable every month. I don't understand why I can't "order" say Gilligan's Island (the one when they find the radioactive seeds) any time I want. I would sit through a commercial or two to be able to watch what I want. I just don't understand why the way we watch TV doesn't change. Instead of focus groups and canceled new sitcoms, let me watch what I know I already want to watch, then I'll watch the commercials too. How is "The Greatest American Hero" (the first episode they
    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Netflix has the 3 seasons of Gilligan's Island for rent (I just checked). They also have a bunch of other movies/old TV shows (not GI, except for one of the followup TV movies) available for streaming though.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      ???

      BUY them if you like them so much.

      The whole Gilligan's Island series can be had for dirt cheap at Walmart.

      TGAH is a little more expensive because it's a bit of a cult show.

  • Fewer commercials? Not a chance. I think what we'll find is more channels being shown to people who just skip over them.
  • by gamecrusader (1684024) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @08:36PM (#30232288)

    This article just makes me hate google more and more, you have no idea how many patents they have covering every aspect of every possible search engine. Isn't google using illegal means to gain information for their, financial gain then to bombard us with advertisements. This has to come an end, how far can a company go before it gets out of hand. the way this is going googles going to get worse than microsoft, thats a complement microsoft. Isn't this a breach of privacy? How bad will it become before, anyone will put their foot down? Also, Isn't it illegal with the methods that the networks are using to get personal information, in order to fine tune the battering ram of advertisements the besiege us with every day? Isn't time for the government to put their foot down. For the right of privacy of every person in this country, along with the world, as google's masive hand starts to cover the world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If Microsoft had done this, it would have been hoarsely cried upon from rooftops with evil and big brother thrown in liberally. When Google does it, there is a positive spin given to it saying that it could mean fewer commercials.
      Oh the duplicacy....
      The above one is the only comment that I have seen crying foul, others all skip the issue in different ways. And the score was 1..

      Nowadays I read slashdot with the same perspective that I read the inquirer or fox news or msnbc knowing that I should take every se

      • Well, the parent makes all of its points in the form of a question, and from watching fox news and msnbc I've learned that any time someone asks a leading question to make a point, the question can almost always be answered "no." Let's try it out:

        - Isn't this a breach of privacy? No, it's aggregated data, there's nothing personally identifiable about it
        - Also, Isn't it illegal with the methods that the networks are using to get personal information, in order to fine tune the battering ram of advertisement

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          > - Isn't this a breach of privacy? No, it's aggregated data, there's nothing personally identifiable about it ...only assuming they did everything technically correct, there's no problems with their methodology and they are actually telling the truth.

          That's depending on both Tivo and Google to be both correct and "non-evil".

    • I don't understand your problem, are they holding a gun to your head?
  • Watching commercials on a Tivo Now i live in Canada, so I don't have Tivo, but I have the equivalent in Canadian terms. My question is this. Why would anyone in their right mind watch commercials. That's like buying a car and then pushing it around yourself. Definitely not taking advantage of the technology.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      because the need time to go take a piss or get a drink?
      Advertiser are well aware this happens, why do tyou think the volume jumps for commercial? so you can hear it in another room.

      Beside, you would make a judgment, but instead look at the data. If you asked me 10 years ago if the music industry would still exists as the giant corporation they are, I would have said no way. Turns out most people will buy music online.

  • Actually it probably means advert placements for those demographics that skip ads become cheaper, whilst those that actually watch adverts become more expensive. Not a massive shift, but expect to see the cheap slots becoming less sophisticated, and open to ever-smaller companies, which could be a good thing.

    Alternatively, maybe the ad-breaks for the skipping-demographics will get shorter, to discourage people from skipping, so ensuring they watch the bother to watch 1 advert that is on (rather than skip
    • Think again. I propose:

      1) "This channel/show is no longer profitable, cancel it"
      2) "We are not getting as much per slot as we expect, so lets just make more slots. Just double the commercial breaks and cut the length of the commercial breaks by one third."
      3) "let's increase cable rates. Er, more than we originally planned"
  • If they are able to provide target ads for viewers, this could be good for digital video distribution. This market really needs to go and improve. Cable TV is too overpriced for the "content" they provide. We put the phone on the internet and now its time to put the TV there as well.

  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kcTEA.rr.com minus caffeine> on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @09:32PM (#30232720) Homepage

    While an a purely ethics level I don't care for MS's business practices at least they tend to usually just screw other businesses, Google frankly scares the crap out of me. Its pretty easy to avoid MS but avoiding becoming a google statistic is becoming increasingly impossible.

  • by ivi (126837) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @09:45PM (#30232834)

    If Google or others sites are recording & selling our search keys, here's a solution:

    - develop an application that - while our browser is idle -
          selects BOGUS search keys AT RANDOM and sends
          them to Google as if we'd entered them in real searches

    Ie, feed Google a "noisy" stream of search keys, at about
    the same speed as we'd be sending them, if they were
    real searches.

    I have no doubt that such an application would become
    very popular, very soon...

    Any takers?

    PS Are there any such applications in existence today?

    • by MulluskO (305219)

      I don't think such a thing would be popular. Most people don't care, but those few that do would find it easier to use a service with a better privacy policy. Perhaps Bing or Yahoo! could profit from the backlash in the unlikely event that one should materialize.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Firefox addon TrackMeNot does this. Been using it for eons.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If Google or others sites are recording & selling our search keys, here's a solution:

      - develop an application that - while our browser is idle -

      selects BOGUS search keys AT RANDOM and sends

      them to Google as if we'd entered them in real searches

      Ie, feed Google a "noisy" stream of search keys, at about
      the same speed as we'd be sending them, if they were
      real searches.

      I have no doubt that such an application would become
      very popular, very soon...

      Any takers?

      PS Are there any such applications in existence today?

      Track Me Not

      http://mrl.nyu.edu/~dhowe/trackmenot/index.html [nyu.edu]

  • The most likely outcome of this is that the networks will finally start an arms race on commercial avoidance strategies.

    I really don't get why it is that they still make all of the commercials exactly 30 seconds in length. Ten years ago, I had a VCR with a button that would fast-forward 30 seconds and stop.

    Today, MythTV does a darned good job of auto-flagging commercials, and then auto-skipping them for me. And the default fast-forward time is that magical 30 seconds. I haven't watched a commercial in

  • by sdnoob (917382) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @01:05AM (#30233972)

    absolutely no mention in TFA of tivo's existing opt-out policy (keeps your tivo from reporting usage and viewing history of your box) and if it will also apply to google's sticky fingers.

  • (...) Does this mean fewer commercials for viewers? Not likely, but one can hope.

    Quite possibly not. It would mean more relevant commercials and less annoying flashing and screaming ads. Before Google entered, advertising on the internet with mere text was unheard of. By using very relevant ads both viewers/users and companies benefit. The issue with todays TV ads is that they are highly irrelevant. It's up to the company to make sure the ad gets displayed at the right time of day. Perhaps Google could improve upon this, so some of us can be freed of vacuum cleaner ads, unless they are

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