Monday, March 12, 2007

Google TV

In Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Google's new television ad vertical is profiled. In a nutshell, Google hopes to do to television advertising (a market that is 5 to 6 times larger than online) what it has done to online advertising, which is turn it on its head. Google hopes to serve up targeted advertising based on demographic information which viewers will provide in the hopes of seeing more ads that are relevant to them. (The example WSJ gives is that dog owners will see ads for dog food.)

It's an interesting concept, but its one that I'm sure will have some folks fairly unhappy with. First is the Tivo issue. That's great that you are showing me an ad for a truck that I might want to buy, but I've seen the ad already and to be honest, I only have 50 minutes to watch an hour long episode of Lost. So what's going to go? Well its surely not going to be the part where Locke reveals he's an "Other." It's going to be the commercials that YOU picked to see.

Secondly, and this could be a stretch, so I'm sure a lot of folks will disagree with me here, but isn't this a bit of tunnel vision? I mean, sure, you have a dog so you're interested in dog food, but what if all of a sudden you find yourself dog-sitting and you need to go out and get dog food? Do you just buy the cheapest one? Or do you buy Purina because the commercial looked so appealing? Seeing only the commercials that you want to see may close you off to other alternatives and options that may be better suited to you that you never knew about.

Finally, don't you think it would be kind of creepy when you login to your Google account, do a few searches for MacBook Pro, buy one with your Google Checkout account, then you login to your Google TV account to watch Wheel of Fortune and you see Justin Long (from DodgeBall) and the embodiment of the Mac telling you that its time to buy AppleCare! I think we still have a ways to go before this Orwellian drama plays out....

I think that targeted ads are a great thing, but I think that these are just some of the obstacles that Google faces in the competitive space of television advertising. But if they can do it....well, let's see what happens first...

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