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Google Unveils Google TV

May 20th, 2010

Bringing web content to TVs is a role that’s still very much up for grabs.

Google has partnered with Intel and Sony to create Google TV, an ambitious attempt to mold its Android software into TVs, Blu-ray players, and a Google set-top box called Buddy Box.

Google TV will be delivered on set-top boxes that use Intel Atom chips and run an Android-based platform, though the technology will also reportedly be built directly into Blu-ray players and TVs from Sony. Additionally, Google is working with Logitech to build a keyboard-equipped remote control.  This would be your remote for everything from what I understand.    

Google TV combines two proven ingredients from Google: Android and its Chrome Web browser. It replaces your TV or cable/satellite tuner’s program guide with a simpler version that indexes both what’s in your 100 or 200 or 300 channels and what’s on the Web. It emphasizes search instead of browsing.  Popular sites like Hulu don’t have to enable content locking out Google TV users.  Boxee (partner & provider of Apple TV) had this happen to them last year. 

Google TV offers:

  • Search: It’s built into the TV experience. Search for “Survivor” and get a list of results that include live TV (select to watch now), episodes airing later (select to record to DVR) and web content related to it.
  • Integration with Android phones: Over WiFi, an Android phone can become a remote and you can even go so far as to use voice search, too.
  • Partners: Sony, Intel, Dish Network, Logitech, Adobe and Best Buy. Power names for a power launch, expected this fall.

Of course in true Google style they want to be able to gather information about you.  They want to learn about your TV viewing habits and sell ads around that behavior. You don’t have to like it but you also don’t have to use it.  As a marketing professional and consumer I really don’t mind this tactic.  If ads come to me that are catered to my lifestyle and behaviors fantastic. Also, if I can play a small part in stopping overactive bladder or erectile dysfunction ads from coming into my house on a regular basis then I say go for it.     

Many Questions are still left Unanswered

Set-top boxes that play video games, let you watch videos, view photo slideshows, and listen to music are great ideas, but what about the rest of the Web? The fact is that Web content is text heavy with a large number of blogs, news sites, and social networks that people visit on a daily basis.  But you tend to sit quite a few feet back from the television in your living room, which makes it harder and less comfortable to read text. So how probable is it that you’ll want to use your television for Twitter, Facebook or Instant Messenger chats?  I would have to say no in my case as I have a difficult time reading text on my laptop unless it’s magnified to 100%.  But I’m no spring chicken anymore either. 

There are also many questions as to how Google will incorporate advertising into its TV platform.  Will ads on Google TV devices be delivered through websites & traditional TV programming or will they be delivered through another alternative like Android apps?  This could really shake things up for marketers if this takes off.  The New York Times reports that Google’s biggest motivation for developing Google TV is to “ensure that its…search and advertising systems, play a central role.” I agree.  They would be foolish not to. I have no doubt that Google ads will be pushed into the Google TV platform somehow.  It’s just a matter of when and how. 

eMarketer estimates that digital video ad spending will jump 48% this year to $1.5 billion. Though, with lower-quality online video playing on high-definition screens, that audience for web video probably has a ceiling.

There is no doubt that this will have a major impact on how we plan & buy media and create ads for our clients.  Not only will we be creating online ads for computers but these will now also need to be created (sized & reformatted) for digital TV screens as well.   But will it be as simple as reformatting an online ad for TV?  Probably not if you think about the creative messaging implications. 

Will consumers now be able to essentially click on a Google TV ad to get more info or even buy a product?  Will this translate the same as web or will there be a clear distinction between the two?  I don’t think anyone knows yet.   

This is truly an awesome technological advancement to see and only time will tell if Google can really make it happen.    

To help understand the true impact check out this video on Google TV.   http://mashable.com/2010/05/20/google-tv-3/

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