With the advent of DVR technology, TV watchers have the ability to skip through commercials, but they are still exposed to brief glimpses as the ads zip by. Not to mention that it's nearly impossible to start and stop fast-forwarding precisely, which generally forces viewers to watch a portion of the first and last commercials.
As you can imagine, this makes it much more difficult for advertisers to properly place ads. Google intends to provide those advertisers with a more detailed picture by collecting second-to-second data, logging which commercials you watch, and what ones you skip.
"We know that some set-top box out there pressed play on a certain network at a certain time -- then we know they hit fast-forward, hit pause, and hit play. You do that across a million and a half set-top boxes, and you get a collective picture of what percentage of people were watching a certain commercial at a given time," said TiVo exec Todd Juenger.