What’s Next for Google TV?

One of the prevalent themes at last week’s ILM:08 conference was how the economic environment is forcing businesses of all sizes to pay closer attention to their advertising ROI. With that will come an acceleration of the existing trend toward more measurable online media.

Google TV is one place that could benefit from this, as television spot advertising is expected to be one of the biggest victims of continued ad spending declines at local and national levels. Here, a double-edged sword faces many forms of online advertising: Overall ad spending is declining, but greater portions are moving toward more measurable media.

This was echoed throughout the conference, including a session that interviewed a panel of real-life SMBs. It was a small sample group, but one that was unanimous in its claims to move more ad dollars online.

Back to Google TV, eMarketer sums up some of its recent moves (our past coverage here) such as signing deals with NBC and Harris Corp. to sell some of their remnant inventory. This tier II inventory has prevented Google TV from being considered as a primary ad vehicle for many marketers, but more deals that give it access to premium inventory could change that.

The company has also been limited to programming that is served through EchoStar’s Dish Network. This is because it has worked out an arrangement where its software is embedded in Dish’s set-top boxes, in order to get the targeting, tracking and reporting that you would expect from Google. The whole point, after all, is for advertisers to manage and track campaigns in AdWords (see past analysis).

The limited inventory and distribution has made this more of an “add-on tactic,” according to one agency representative interviewed by eMarketer. This will likely change, however, as Google uses its weight to form more deals and gain access to better inventory and distribution.

After hearing NBC’s Larry Olevitch speak at ILM:08 about the network’s plans to reach out into more online and digital out-of-home channels, this could mean expanding its relationship with Google TV. For its premium television inventory, it would seem to be conflicted about handing over access to a cost-effective self-serve channel like Google. But these additional distribution outlets that continue to open up could be fitting for Google TV.

A separate panel on digital out-of-home video (DOOH) likewise solidified the size of this opportunity (a billion-dollar industry, according to Danoo CEO Aileen Lee). This could represent another distribution outlet for Google TV, given the targeting and tracking capabilities of DOOH.

The growing subset of DOOH screens have their own IP addresses and can serve geographically and demographically targeted content. They’re also increasingly serving trackable calls to action and mobile device integrations such as SMS-based promotions. And Google Maps is already used by some DOOH providers to exhibit nearby businesses.

Lastly, the IP-based architecture of IPTV packages like AT&T’s U-Verse seems like a natural fit for self provisioned video ads that are generated and tracked in AdWords. These could all be possible directions for Google TV.

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