Personal video recorder company TiVo has begun testing interactive advertising banners to compensate for viewers skipping conventional commercials.

In a trial with a limited number of randomly selected subscribers to the TiVo service, an advert pops up briefly when a viewer selects fast-forward or rewind over selected commercial spots. Pressing the thumbs-up or select button when the banner is displayed will take the user to further information or a short video. Pressing clear will remove the graphic.

The feature is currently being tested with Series2 TiVo devices, but could be provided to other TiVo subscribers. TiVo is telling customers that the new icons are all part of the service, and there is no facility to opt out. The banners occupy up to a quarter of the screen. In the versions seen, they appear in the middle of the picture.

Revenues from such forms of advertising are initially unlikely to contribute significantly to the troubled TiVo company, and will not go far to compensating advertisers that are beginning to suffer from ad-avoidance. TiVo also runs the risk of irritating its customers, for whom skipping commercials is an unmentioned benefit of its personal video recorder.

Interactive advertising was part of the deal TiVo recently agreed with Comcast, which is also pioneering its own forms of targeted advertising. The companies have said that they will make the TiVo interactive advertising platform available across the Comcast customer base.

Judging by the reaction of some TiVo users, who have traditionally been vocal advocates of the brand, this latest development is not going down too well. As the advertising industry searches for new business models more appropriate to the on-demand age, proponents argue that relevance, rather than interruption, is the key to getting its message across.