Will Google Save TV?

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Google CEO Eric Schmidt would have us believes that television viewers should not have to stand for TV commercials that are “a waste of your time.” According to Schmidt, “when you watch the television you see ads that are clearly not targeted for you.”

Apparently, Mr. Schmidt has not heard of Tivo or the other half-dozen time-shifting technologies available for the tube. Or perhaps he does own DVR of his own. And, perhaps he is equally aware that the TV sales industry is under great pressure to convince advertisers that those big dollars are well-spent.

The plan according to Schmidt is to deliver “targeted measurable television ads.” Read: AdWords for TV. But what’s the real plan? Targeting is relatively clear, but what about measurability. After all, when most of watch TV, we don’t click on a sponsored link to activate an ad.

Will the TV execs willingly convert their impression-based platform to something genuinely measurable? Not with $74 billion in ad revenue at stake.

So, how will Google measure ads on TV? Chances are, they will do it very slowly. Traditional broadcast, whether radio or TV is not an easy industry to disrupt. It’s not as though you can just build a killer search algorithm. Radio and TV are massively operations-oriented with layers of corporations, high-paid executives and union personnel.

If you think Google’s foray in to TV will be quick, take a close look at the dMarc acquisition, which is Google’s entree in to the world of radio, and you will see that traditional media is a much tougher nut to crack. dMarc is a mature company with a diverse product set designed to aid radio station operations from the bottom up. Google will have to have build and/or acquire a complex and robust platform, if it intends to get close to the ad placement on your TV.

This may be Google’s toughest challenge, yet. To date, it has bought and built relatively thin applications — certainly nothing that an entire industry would truly rely upon and expect business continuity.

Although it may be part of the plan, getting in to this business will not be as simple as buying TiVo for a billion dollars or YouTube for $2 billion. To be successful, Google will need to get deep in the thick of TV operations. Good news, if you Crispin Corporation, Fighting Bull or one of the industry automation solutions providers.