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Google TV Invades the 'Digital Living Room'
By: Jeff Louis
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Google's first foray into broadcast TV advertising probably didn't get a spot on the trophy wall below their search algorithm and Ad Words interface. In fact, many advertisers aren't even aware of the fact that Google offers national TV spot buying services through Ad Words.

When Google introduced the broadcast service, critics shook their heads. The platform for TV advertisers is very limited in scope, and Google fans wondered why a company that rewrote how the Internet was used made a move to compete with broadcast, dish, and cable networks; it didn't seem to fit "Google logic." Unlike the SEM Ad Words product, "Ad Words for TV" is strictly national, so there's no local targeting.

Speculators thought perhaps Google was playing to TV's strengths. Broadcast (and cable) have huge reach potential, so perhaps the company sought to provide advertisers with a little oomph for emotional appeal, adding sight, sound, and motion capabilities.

The likely reason is that Google had a plan. A couple of years ago, the word "fragmentation" became popular in the ad biz, and while fragmented audiences/attention spans always have concerned advertisers, their negative effects were negligible. Now, however, we seem to be experiencing "hyper-fragmentation," and to reach consumers, advertisers are forced to use alternate routes simultaneously.

Have you ever watched a TV commercial and then look up the product online? There's a strong correlation between TV and SEM, and if you're anything like me, you always have your smart phone or laptop within reach. Today's consumer can either ignore or actively pursue items that appeal to our interests; it's a trend so prevalent that Nielsen released its first quarterly Three-Screen Report, tracking video usage on TV, the Internet, and mobile phones/devices in summer 2008.

Now that Google TV is here (not to be confused with the Ad Words TV advertising platform), some of Google's past buying decisions make sense. YouTube is one. Although a popular destination, the site's never made a profit (what the future holds remains to be seen). conspiracy theorist reports began circulating online in 2004 in regard to Google's off-the-radar acquisitions of dark fiber (installed but unused fiber-optic cable).

Could it be that Google began their online TV push early in the 21st century? 

If Google TV flies, it might be the biggest thing to hit the Internet since Al Gore invented it.

Maybe I am looking too far ahead, but follow me for a second and consider these four points:

Google will have a "box" in your home that's connected to your IP address and incorporates all of your TV viewing.
2.) Google purchased many, many miles of dark fiber, and s
treaming video takes up a lot of bandwidth.
Google knows your online surfing habits and behaviors.
Google offers national TV advertising.

While maybe a bit of liberal speculation on my part, it seems that Google just jumped into the addressable TV business without a hitch. If they can pipe TV ads to home addresses, or TV sets via IP, the whole Ad Words TV platform just became invaluable.

Screw the DMA! Why target a geographic area when you can pinpoint consumers who are actively engaged in the purchasing cycle? TV's emotional appeal with online's targeting and measurement? Hmm. Sounds like a good deal to me.

In unknown collaboration with Google's TV announcement last week, Shelly Palmer, author of "Television Disrupted," recounted his experience moderating a panel covering the "fight for the digital living room." The panelists were tech execs from companies like Samsung, LG, and Vizio. Right off the bat, Palmer threw a question at the panel: “Considering the amount of personal devices people are using to consume media, is there really a living room left to fight for?”  

Samsung's VP of content and product solutions answered: “We’re not fighting for the living room, we’re fighting for the account.”

He then went on to say the company is on track to sell more than 8.5 million Internet-ready flat screens in 2010, 5.5 million of which will be connected to a broadband provider within a week. Vizio's senior director of product management projected that they'd sell more than 7 million Internet-connectible TVs this year, of which over half would be connected to broadband connected and registered within a week of purchase.  

Assuming that other manufacturers are on par, this means that  75 million broadband-connected TV sets will be operating by 2013.

Consider that figure; this year, Nielsen estimates that there are 114.9 million TV households in the U.S., of which 87 percent are wired to cable, satellite, or IPTV (and half has broadband service), which means that the Google TV scenario isn't so far-fetched after all


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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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