by Dave Zornow
Published in Cynopsis:Weekender newsletter, 11/01/07
In the 1987 TV series Max Headroom, TV advertising prices are set by a live auction where continuously changing ratings let advertisers bid on commercial avails. The series, canceled by ABC after 11 episodes, aired 11 years before the Internet was commercialized and twenty years before last week’s deal between Google and Nielsen.
“We think that TV is becoming like the Web: content explosion, audience fragmentation, and a long tail of networks,” says Keval Desai, product management director for Google TV Ads. “Internet principles like accountability and measurement can be applied to the TV business to the benefit of users, advertisers and publishers.”
Google TV Ads leverages the online auction technology used by Google to sell search keywords on the Web. Through deals with EchoStar and Astound Cable, a system operator in the Bay Area, Google TV Ads offers second-by-second set-top box data from digital set-top boxes. Google has plans to increase TV Ads reach through additional cable distribution.
The Google-Nielsen relationship addresses challenges faced by both companies. Google TV Ads gets demo data that ad agencies need to plan and buy TV. Nielsen gets an opportunity to learn how people meter data can be credibly melded with a virtual TV viewing census – albeit a census limited to the TV sets in cable and satellite homes that have digital boxes.
Google will initially use demo data from Nielsen’s national people meter sample to target buys and report audience delivery on the Google TV Ads platform. Set top box data will be adjusted initially at the DMA level for satellite subscription. “We will apply algorithms to essentially take the satellite subs out of the Nielsen data,” says Desai.
Both companies have high hopes for shared learning. “In the future, the two engineering and product teams will collaborate to develop models that incorporate set top box data with the people meter data to see if we can take the Nielsen panel and fuse it with EchoStar to improve the reports that go back to advertisers and agencies.”
Desai thinks Google can bring the industry together so there’s something in it for both buyer and seller. “We are bringing the parties together instead of pitting them against each other,” he says. “We are hoping to be a catalyst for the TV business.” ##
Dave Zornow is President/TNG Research, a media research consultancy and applications development company that works with media sellers and research providers