Google Fiber set to begin targeted TV advertising in Kansas City

25 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CMO Today: Google Tests Silver Bullet For TV Ads.

Cute animals. The ads will show during existing ad breaks in much the same way that local buyers like car dealerships or restaurants can buy airtime from a national cable provider in a specific market. ‘Fiber TV ads will be digitally delivered in real time and can be matched based on geography, the type of program being shown (sports, news, etc.), or viewing history,’ Google said. ‘In the next few weeks, we’ll be starting a small trial of this type of capability with our Fiber TV subscribers in Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO. ‘If you’re a local business in Kansas City, just as with digital ads, you’ll only pay for ads that have been shown, and can limit the number of times an ad is shown to a given TV. ‘The tracking at this point is pretty unsophisticated,’ says a source familiar with the deal told Adweek, claiming that Google is trying to be extra cautious with user privacy on this initiative.

Send tips, suggestions and complaints to steven.perlberg@wsj.com THE HOLY GRAIL: Ad folks will often say that the “holy grail” of TV advertising is dynamic ad insertion, a rather clinical term that basically means swapping ads in and out during a TV show in real-time to better target viewers. Earlier this year it was revealed Google’s super-fast Internet service – up to 100 times quicker than basic broadband – is heading for four more US metropolitan areas as the technology titan ramps up pressure on cable service giants. ‘We can’t wait to see what people and businesses across the southeast US do with gigabit speeds,’ Google Fiber vice president Dennis Kish said in a blog post announcing the expansion.

Using data from its set-top-boxes, Google (and advertisers) will know precisely how many times a particular local ad has been watched in homes with Google Fiber service. That super-narrow targeting represents something nearing a holy grail for television advertisers, even as it raises privacy issues about a company selling TV service tracking what its customers watch. And while Google isn’t the only company experimenting in the targeted TV space, the company’s enormous ad prowess online will likely pique marketers’ interest in terms of what it can do on TV.

Google is meanwhile working on a new generation of applications designed to capitalize on Internet speeds available using Fiber, but did not disclose details. On a post to its online product forum on Friday, Google Fiber said the targeting “allows you to see ads for nearby businesses — like the car dealership downtown or the neighborhood flower shop.” It says it will start “a small trial” in early April. The story behind the story: Google Fiber’s program will likely raise privacy concerns since the company wants to target advertising based on viewer habits.

As Adweek points out, ads can be “dynamically inserted” into recorded programs, so if you DVRed a show from a few days ago, you could still be served more timely ads. Google is already in a powerful position in the wireless world, with its Android operating system running on more than 80 percent of the world’s mobile phones.

Google will use some viewer data, like what show you’re watching or what shows you’ve watched in the past to try and target the ads for maximum effect. From all this activity, the company gets anonymous information that gives it clues on people’s age, gender, income, location and interests and uses that to show more relevant ads online. Showing ads based on current programming also shouldn’t be a problem since it’s just a more precise version of the demographic ad targeting that happens now.

It could also change how ads are sold by giving advertisers more leeway over when ads are shown, to whom and how often — the same kinds of control they have when advertising online. That lets Google charge a premium for those ads because it can commit to a marketer that only the right sliver of the online audience will see the messages. Instead of aiming for broad demographics by placing ads on TV shows that demographic is likely to watch, local businesses could target the exact television viewers who are most likely to respond to their ads. But storing your viewing history to target ads is new and that’s where some subscribers may be uncomfortable—especially if it gets tied to your Google account. In the last few years, however, cable and satellite TV providers like Comcast and Dish have ramped up efforts to use set-top box data to target so-called “addressable ads.” “The idea of serving more targeted ads and getting measurement is always a good thing, but that’s happening now already,” said Michael Bologna, president of Modi Media, a GroupM-owned company specializing in advanced TV targeting.

Tracey Scheppach, executive vice president of Precision Video, a division of the agency Starcom MediaVest, said Google could implement dynamic advertising in different ways. Now, brands are increasingly paying for the GIF-like visuals called Cinemagraph ads to jump out at viewers, especially as the static banner ad goes increasingly out of style, CMO Today reports. “[Cinemagraphs] take the best of photography and best of video, and there’s an immediacy about it that captures people’s attention,” Mark Homza, co-founder and chief creative officer of cinemagraph firm Flixel, told CMO Today. “From an ad perspective they’re non-intrusive and non-disruptive.” Indeed, Facebook has been promoting the ad format to brands. Cable companies have long sold advertising time during nationally-broadcast shows to local small businesses — that’s how that goofy ad for your local used car dealer makes it onto your TV during the latest episode of your favorite show. Advertisers buy most television commercial airtime based on broad assumptions about what type of consumers are drawn to various flavors of programming. That may be why it took a company like Google to harness the power of set-top boxes to even try out this idea on a traditional medium like television.

For instance, if you’re watching the news before flipping over to the football game, the system might determine that you should be served a different ad during halftime than your buddy who switched over to the game from Pawn Stars. That’s why pickup trucks are pitched during football games and commercials for fabric softeners appear during “The View.” Google Inc. makes its billions analyzing Internet searches and Web views to tailor online ads to match what consumers appear interested in. That has got to be sort of bittersweet for Kevin Reilly, the Fox executive who ordered “Empire” but left the network last year when things weren’t looking as hot (a series of flops coupled with atrophying ratings for “American Idol”). With the possible exception of TiVo’s little-known research division, which offers second-to-second, randomized viewer data to marketers, there’s simply no way to get the kind of data Google is promising with its new service.

Over the last year, many entertainment companies like HBO have announced new services that allow “cord cutters” who do not have a traditional cable connection to watch their shows over the Internet. The TV industry works off of Nielsen ratings, which pulls viewership data from a relatively tiny cross-section of viewers with meters installed in their homes. But imagine placing ads during such a high-rating event that recognize one viewer spends several hours a week watching kitchen shows and might be a sucker for an ad for knives. As shows become more like the Internet, it is natural for ads to follow the same path. “It will matter less and less how you get your connection and more what you can see, when you want to see it,” said Jonathan Nelson, chief executive of Omnicom Digital. “Wherever there is people’s attention, that’s where we need to be.” Reilly, he now is the president of Time Warner’s TBS and TNT channels, where he’ll be tasked with finding the next “Empire.” Fox-parent 21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-owner News Corp were part of the same company until mid-2013.

Nevertheless, despite the opportunities for advertisers, it’s hard to imagine how Google could expand its TV ad service to the more lucrative national market — the system is dependent on Google controlling the hardware in people’s homes. WHAT’S UP DOC: A funny thing happens when the media environment shifts to letting people (binge) watch what they want, when they want it: turns out they want sports documentaries. And since Nielsen ratings have proven incredibly resilient over the years despite technological advances, it’s unlikely Google will take over any time soon.

The New York Times reports on the “proliferation and profitability” of television sports documentaries, particularly for ESPN’s heralded “30 for 30” series, which began in 2009 and has become a fan favorite and upped the competition from players like HBO Sports. Sit people down and tell them a good story.” – Most of the social media conversation surrounding Starbucks’s “Race Together” campaign was negative [CMO Today] and the coffee maker decided to scrap the program [New York Times] Although Google Fiber TV customers will get those ads if they do nothing, the company notes in its email, its online settings instructions and its forum that customers can opt out.

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