Vincent Dureau, Google’s head of TV technology, gave us another glimpse into the mind of Google and what it might be planning for its television presence in his opening keynote at iTV Con, a trade show conference dedicated to Internet TV.
Television, he said, is experiencing an identity crisis (Register report). As we all know, there has been an explosion of content, with more and more cable and satellite TV channels; with the Internet, IPTV, and YouTube; and with TiVo and DVRs. Viewers have more freedom to pick what they want to watch, when, and to add to the confusion, they can skip the advertising.
Dureau, like many other industry observers, notes that this creates new problems for content producers and for advertisers, “as they struggle to reach an audience that has so many options.” The same thing, he argued, applied to the World Wide Web, which Google helped tame with search and AdSense, among other innovations. With a little Internet know-how, the TV industry can enjoy a brighter future.
With a more fragmented audience it’s easier for advertisers to reach the people they covet. “Audience fragmentation is a good thing,” Dureau told conference attendees, “You can make your audience more specialized. With more specialized channels you can actually insert more relevant content that’s more likely to reach the intended audience.”
You can actually make more money, because you can increase the relevancy of your ads. You can cut down on the number of ads – and still reach more people. At the end of the day, you’re changing the attitude of the consumer. They’ve reached a point where they expect the ad to be relevant and they’re more likely to watch it.”
Sounds like Google TV AdSense.
He also argued that ad skipping is a “godsend.” If advertisers can determine which ads are being skipped and which are not, they can improve getting their ads in front of people who actually want to view them. Important to this initiative, he said, is building web-based technologies into TV set-top boxes that can track such information.
Sounds like Google TV Search. Google TV Metrics.
Google’s foray into non web-based Internet television began, at least publicly, around the time of Dureau’s hire in August 2006. He was the CTO for OpenTV, a leader of IPTV-enabling technologies and services. Google had already begun its search for engineers with IPTV experience.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Google was partnering with EchoStar to sell commercials over the DISH satellite broadcaster’s 125 national programming networks, an early indicator, ZDNet UK noted, of how Google planned to use its ad business to conquer television.
Additionally, two research scientists from Google have developed a way for a computer to quickly identify which shows someone is watching on TV and feed personalized Internet content to the person based on the information learned (InformationWeek).
More details about this effort recently emerged in a patent filing by Google for Social and Interactive Applications for Mass Media. One element of the patent bandied about on the Web is “an image capture device can be used to measure how many viewers are watching or listening to a broadcast.” The system is to identify audio within a TV broadcast and compare it to appropriate reference material for identification. After that, “personalized information related to the media broadcast” is aggregated to the viewer.
The patent. The EchoStar deal. The hiring of Dureau and IPTV engineers. Little by little details about Google’s TV plans are being revealed. It looks like, if Google has its way, there will be the Google “ecosystem” behind TV, just like it is behind the Web.