As many of you may be aware of by now, last week Google introduced Google TV at its 2010 I/O conference. The new platform promises to truly integrate our TV programming, online video, and movies all into a singular screen. Whether it be in our homes or our laptops on the go, the point of Google TV is to provide virtually all video content available through the web, broadcast networks, DVR recorders, and some movie rental companies all through a single portal. Despite former attempts made by Apple and Microsoft to integrate our video watching experiences, Google claims they have the ticket to not only integrating our video-web experience, but also integrate the revenue generated by the multi-billion dollar broadcast TV ad industry. Will Google TV be the realization of our convergent media dreams, or will this leave us unable to get the most out of our HDTV’s, cable and dish signals when we can get the same content we could obtain through any HDMI cable and our laptop?
According to the product leads, using the Android platform as a model, Google TV will make it easier to surf the web for video content just as it is easy to channel surf with our TV remote and click through to our show of choice. Just like our web browsers allow us to do, you may also bookmark TV channels or websites. Currently, Netflix has agreed to allow its subscribers to view videos through the Google TV interface. The effect of this integration blurs the lines for the user/viewer as it will be difficult to distinguish the source of our programming.
In blurring the lines of TV programming, Google will also attempt to jump head first into the $70 billion per year TV advertising revenue stream. eMarketer projects that $1.5 billion will be spent in advertising: inventory that can now be purchased through Google. Yes, believe it or not, Google has struck a deal with major TV networks, opening national ad inventory up for Google TV to sell. This may not occur within the first year of operation, but Google will capitalize on the sale of national ad inventory.
Currently, Google sells TV ads through their easily accessible “Google TV Ads” where roughly 30% of their advertisers are new to the TV medium. Analysts say that its returns thus far have proven to be insultingly small. Many of these types of advertisers air low budget, low quality videos usually placed in undesirable, unsold programming which may not be the most appealing to experience on your 60 inch plasma screen. For the advertiser, this may also not yield the greatest return on their investment, and Google will not have really tapped into the bulk of the potential revenue previously stated. Even so, Google believes that they will be able to sell unsold and non-prime national inventory more cost effectively than the current sales force.
Is it safe to say that true convergence isn’t being implemented? The viewer simply has a menu to peruse, no interactivity with the actual programming and other viewers, or the ability to drill down to obtain customized information from TV ads. These issues need working through.
The head of Google TV Technology, Vincent Dureau, states that the potential for every ad on TV to become interactive does exist. Dureau has a background in software engineering, not TV programming or marketing. Not only does the integration need to occur within the technologies, but the convergence of advertising methods also need to join forces. However, this is one thing that Google does have over Microsoft and Apple: relationships with advertisers and agencies. It is a start. In the end, the idea that Google’s efforts to create a totally open sourcing platform provides some hope that we are one step nearer to the idea of media integration.