A revolution called Google TV is coming. Have you thought about what it means? Google's Global VP of Media & Platforms, Henrique De Castro, believes it will change digital content forever. He gave his two cents at this year's international ad fest in Cannes, offering tips on how to start thinking about advertising in a land without barriers.
Online video started out innocently enough-- a YouTube video here, a YouTube video there. Today YouTube has been around a mere 5 years, but according to De Castro, 200 million hours of video are being consumed on a daily basis. That's a huge jump in such a short time.
Because technology is an enabler, De Castro sees this fast-rising trend as a stepping stone toward the increase of TV campaign effectiveness.
Think about it like this: Today we can watch a substantial amount of on-demand content online and maybe a few hundred channels on television, with one of the main differences being the way advertising works. What if that difference changed? What if television ads could be just like the ads you see on the Web?
Unbundling the Ad from the Content
De Castro says internet-connected TV is "a reality that will change advertising forever because you're going to be able to unbundle the ad from the content."
For example, it's highly probable that you and someone you know watched the same World Cup match in your respective homes. In addition to the same game, you also watched the same commercials, which were probably for something you didn't need, like Old Spice deodorant (no offense if you did/do).
Connecting TV to the Internet does away with this sort of generalization. Commercials can be removed from the content, making room for personalization. Imagine watching a program on television and having all the commercials specifically tailored to your interests. Theoretically, this would spike customer feedback and ad effectiveness in a big way.
Changes to Expect
Of course, unbundling television ads from content will have some repercussions. Google notes the following:
- Audience Fragmentation: Splitting up audiences into many tiny groups was a scary thing when we didn't have the technology, but now De Castro says we've advanced enough to re-aggregate and reap the benefits.
- Ad Complexity: Google says Dynamic ads will be the most important, taking cues from the weather, traffic, political conditions, game results, etc. Imagine your television advertising a cold blended drink from Starbucks on a hot day rather than a steaming cup of coffee. Imagine waking up to rain, turning on the tube and seeing an ad for galoshes.
- Change media plans on the fly: This isn't possible for television today, obviously, but De Castro says Google TV will be able to continuously offer content that is most relevant to what's going on in your personal world at any given time.
- Goodbye Offline: "Social is life. Life is social. That's why we're here," he said. "Every single medium is going to be social." This also means offline offerings will slowly become less and less important. Constant connection will be a necessary reality.
Other cool stuff is on the way too, like being able to instant message a friend about a movie you're watching while you look up information about the actors, etc. all on the same screen.
"Scary?" asked De Castro. "Yes. Very scary."
Maybe Too Scary
On the other hand, there are those that aren't so keen on these developments. Ellen Dudar of AdvertisingAge is sure that Google TV will turn out to be a dud, and even names a few of the effects the company highlights as the reasons it will fail.
"Google wants a slice of the $70 billion advertising pie, but, with the exception of the DISH DVR, the Google TV solution sits outside this lucrative flow of dollars," she said. "While Google can deliver new ads in their overlays, they have nothing to do with making linear television spots more targeted and interactive. In fact, Google TV encourages even greater audience fragmentation that undermines television content and advertising models."
She also touches on consumer behavior, claiming that research indicates people do want much more from their television sets, but not Web surfing. "They want features that enhance programming and deliver convenience."
Steve Jobs doesn't think it'll even get that far. He says the problem lies not in content delivery, but in purchasing another set-top box. "Ask TiVo. Ask Replay TV. Ask Roku. Ask Vudu. Ask us," he said at at the All Things Digital D8 Conference this year. "Ask Google in a few months...Sony's tried as well. Panasonic's tried. They've all failed."
Of course, should Google succeed, it will be interesting to see how Big G TV changes our expectations. Consumer behavior has been so volatile since the social boom that it's hard to say what the initial reaction will look like. What do you think?