Google has been moving toward TV for some time. YouTube is about TV in one way of looking at the acquisition. But now the WSJ (sub req’d) is reporting that:
Google has begun a test run serving up TV commercials to cable subscribers in Concord, Calif., people familiar with the matter say. The pilot project to bring its approach to cable boxes represents a foray into the $54 billion U.S. market for TV advertising — much bigger game than Google’s online turf.
Google since last year has been steering TV commercials to subscribers of cable provider Astound Broadband, a unit of WaveDivision Holdings LLC, according to four people familiar with the matter. When Astound’s customers watch TV, some commercials spots they see have been sold to advertisers by Google and delivered to the cable company so they appear in the normal breaks in programming as other ads do.
Google has been public about its ambition to expand to a variety of media, beyond the Internet: radio, print and TV. The company sees itself as a platform for buying, managing and tracking ads across a range of media — seeking also to expand its revenue opportunity from the roughly $10 billion earned last year online to the many more billions in traditional media spending in the U.S. and eventually abroad.
According to the WSJ article, Google seeks to bring contextual and demographic (and of course local) targeting to cable TV advertising. With this effort Google is getting into SpotRunner territory a bit. One question, as with all such Google initiatives that extend beyond the Internet is: who does the creative? For current TV/cable advertisers the answer and infrastructure already exists.
But what about new advertisers and SMBs?
Comcast and TimeWarner Cable shoot spot cable ads themselves for SMBs. TurnHere and SpotRunner (and some others) have or are building cost-effective video options for those who currently don’t have access to that infrastructure.
But this appears to be more about bringing more precision targeting to cable TV, rather than bringing hordes of new advertisers to TV — at this point.