IAR Bits and Bytes

TiVo, PBS Ink Ad Deal

TiVo announced that PBS would begin a second phase of its advertising program with the personal video recorder (PVR) company, following the marketing of PBS’ 9/11 commemoration shows last September.

In the new phase, PBS will advertise three programs on TiVo Showcase, an area for TiVo subscribers to get sneak peaks at new programming and view branded programs from advertisers.

Over the next six months, TiVo Showcase will offer a preview of “Manor House,” a six-part reality series of people living in Edwardian England conditions. Also, viewers can see previews and behind-the-scenes footage of “History Detectives,” which shows historians and antiquarians dissecting the family histories of everyday people. Finally, the PBS science series “Nova” will be available for frequent taping, in lieu of its usual once-per-week airing.

The two companies plan to analyze the campaign for how it attracts and retains viewers.

TiVo has expanded its reach as a marketing vehicle. Once viewed as a threat to advertisers, TiVo, which allows viewers to digitally record programs and easily skip commercials, has made some inroads convincing advertisers that the interactivity of PVRs is an opportunity to connect with viewers. Advertisers such as Best Buy and New Line Cinema have both used TiVo for promotions, while 20th Century Fox recently signed up to have five films promoted in TiVo Showcase this year.

TiVo has said it will pass the 1 million subscriber mark this year, and researcher Screen Digest anticipates 15 million U.S. households will have PVRs in 2006. The company has said that it expects advertisers’ interest will increase as the TiVo audience grows.

iProspect, Future Now Partner

Search engine optimization company iProspect and Web site conversion company Future Now announced on Tuesday that they were joining forces to offer Future Now’s site-conversion analysis tool to iProspect customers.

The exclusive deal calls for iProspect to license Future Now’s Minerva Architecture Process (MAP) technology that analyzes a company’s Web site and makes tweaks to persuade more visitors to convert into customers.

“They were the only people that we’ve found that had any idea of how to make a Web site convert at a higher rate,” said Fredrick Marckini, chief executive of iProspect.

Marckini said the MAP tool would be an ideal add-on to iProspect’s search-engine optimization business. He said that while iProspect could do all possible to drive visitors to clients’ Web sites through smart search strategies, it could do little to improve clients’ conversion rates, which, like most sites’, usually hover around 2 percent.

Future Now’s chief executive, Jeff Eisenberg, said businesses should not be pleased with their online conversion rates. Instead of hovering in the low single digits, he said online marketers should expect the 40 to 60 percent conversion rate common in the offline world.

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