Is GoogleTV the Next Big Advertising Success Story?

A few months ago saw Google announce the launch of Google TV in the US, with the promise of a new interactive television experience. That’s the pitch. The reality is that for Google, dominating the online market with search and display and now tapping into mobile with Android, the obvious next big revenue stream will come from digital TV. So is this the future for all or another failed attempt at universally syncing the 2 medias? I’ll be looking at why it is so important as a market, what it will mean for both consumers and advertisers and finally if Google has any chance of success.

An obvious market

All relevant studies point to online and TV getting closer and closer together. So close that Google can legitimately consider a move unto uncharted territory. – The usage overlap between online and TV is growing: 28% access the internet on their computer whilst watching TV. This is a 40% increase versus 2008. Source: Mediascope Europe 2010, EIAA – Online is ever more used for TV related content: Watching or downloading TV, film clips up 46% from 2008 for 25-34s and On-Demand TV up 40%. Source: Mediascope Europe 2010, EIAA – Thus leading to the advent of online video advertising: a 145% year on year growth in the UK last year. Source: UK Internet Advertising Bureau / PricewaterhouseCoopers.

So many have tried already such as Samsung and the Yahoo widget already available. But why would Google’s launch be a game changer? What is it anyway?

So what is GoogleTV?

Lets start first with the official spiel from the giant itself. Indulge yourself and click on the video below. Basically Google TV is an open source OS, based on Android, which is to be used on TV. Amongst it’s key features, you will be able to search any TV content you want, whether on your existing channels, saved files or on the web. It also means a full web browser will be available in the form of Google Chrome. The fact it cleverly uses Android type OS means it will be very easy for developers to roll out apps on both mobile and TV. So as this is a new product, we really have to wait and see if some good apps would make this a clearly useful and new experience. The similar platform also means easy interaction between mobile and TV, beyond using mobile phones as beefed up remote controls. Finally, it will be an intelligent user experience as, very much like the web, you should expect Google TV to remember and target your habits and queries efficiently.

Oh, you clever advertising pro. You can already see the ad potential there. Yep, Google have simply extended their proven AdWord type model to TV. Don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. Interested in having completely targeted TV ads at online CPC rates? Queue here please.

Can this work?

James McQuivey at Forrester seems to think so. He rightly points out 3 key partners that Google will need to seduce to make this a success:

1. Manufacturers will be key in making sure GoogleTV is physically workable. The current partnership with Sony’s TVs, or Logitech and its specific media box is already a strong sign for the market. Unlike previous similar projects which where brand specific, Google needs the whole industry to back it, just like its phone success. As this is an open platform, other TV vendors should be quick to follow the example, in the race to add features on their products. 2. Viewers. You and I. We need to see a clear benefit to this. Not just a new widget that will be forgotten when the next best thing comes a long, but a media changing experience. No matter how many companies push this, we will decide its success by our usage. Knowing Google’s “beta” philosophy, it should be a work-in-progress process until they completely nail it. 3. Developers, the last element but just as key. If they are not on board then no killer app will make GoogleTV interesting. The clever Android platform should make it cost-efficient for them to rollout apps on multi platforms. And mean GoogleTV already has a strong back catalogue of applications. And the whole Flash versus Apple battle should give Google competitive edge here too until Steve Jobs surrenders to Adobe.

I agree with his analysis. All the elements are here to make this a success. Digital TV makes this a natural trend which Google have correctly tried to capitalize with its online model. Whether Google get it right quickly or if this is going to be a long and painful process remains to be seen. Many will try and stop them along the way though. Apple are kicking themselves for not using the iPad’s launch to bridge the online and TV gap. But they will react eventually.

For me success depends on 2 things: firstly, seeing how the content ownership model is resolved online; Indeed current big networks which own content such as series will definitely put up a fight as online content officially moves unto TV. Secondly, the advertising industry will be testing this much like the Google Content Network’s early days. Results and costs may be a massive boost for the project. So how long before we see the Google search bar on all our TV’s? I reckon 2 years for it to be mainstream. Then again, I am a betting man.