I never thought that I would say this, but I like what Google is doing; with their announcement of Google TV last week, both my consumer and digital media dreams got a little rosier.
As a digital media professional for the last twelve years, I have seen the effects of fragmentation on our channel - it is harder and harder to get reach, and thus harder for us to wrangle our audiences online. With the advent of social media, mobile technologies coming to fruition, and the plethora of sites and networks popping up, this diversity has made our jobs more interesting, yet trickier. Being a part of a direct response shop, having multiple channels is a good thing as it allows us to test and allocate dollars to the best performers - of which there are a lot of choices. But with all the choices, we lose reach, or at easy reach that is efficient to plan. Luckily, this problem may have just been solved. But, let's switch gears for a bit and think about the consumer - a key aspect of why this new approach will work in my opinion.
A Consumer's Dream
Yes, there was Microsoft's WebTV, and of course, Apple TV, but these did not take-off to the wild expectations of their manufacturers. I think Google's will. The reason is integration and timing; Google TV will integrate Search, Mobile, TV, and Web-where the others have not. Google TV will be available on some TVs directly or as a set-top box that works with your existing cable and satellite boxes, layering in Google search on top of this. You'll be able to search for a TV station or show and then watch it via web or actual channel. It combines your TV and phone, as well as your TV and Web. It will support Flash (yeah Apple what were you thinking), and run your apps too. You'll also be able to control via Android phones. As the fundamental shift from linear viewing to on demand viewing has taken place, this new tool is hitting us at the right time. Check out a sketch of what the interface portal will look like and you'll see what you'll be able to do: you can add icons for favorite web sites, shows, and channels. And on the left is your navigation. Yes, dreams are rosy and I can't wait to wake up.
Media Sweet Dreams Coming True
Looking at the above sketch of the interface from Google, I now see the duality of reach and targeting coming together. Imagine millions of people logging into their Google TV screen before and during watching TV-this will be a huge, trackable audience that we can tap into. Please, Google, sell ads on the log-in screen this time. Google says that regular Search and SEO (optimizing video content will be more important than ever) will appear just like they do right now - target-ability check. So, who else did Google acquire last year? Doubleclick. I can just imagine the data Google will now have at their fingertips: what people are searching for, what they are watching, what they have purchased, and what sites they frequent. We potentially have the ability to serve the right ads to these consumer segments- search ads, display ads in email and through Google's Content Network, and then video pre-rolls when they watch shows on the web. Imagine partnerships with Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, etc. where they serve the right products and ads to you based on your behaviors and purchases, including Open Graph data. The integration of regular TV ads bought in the right programming, demos, and day-parts could make this even more interesting as we will have the immediate ability to pause programming and surf the web all in one place at one time: imagine the timely offers we can have driven directly to the web.
What do you think from both a consumer and marketer's point of view? Do you think we'll have mass adoption or do you think people will still want a separation of TV and Web? What about privacy and targeting?