GoogleTV is coming.
In this role, you will provide leadership on product vision and execution of projects that enable using Google’s search and advertising technologies to enhance users? Television viewing experience. […] You will identify key market trends that are shaping user behavior when watching Television. These include but not limited to the intersection of Internet and Television technologies, Video-On-Demand, Personal Video Recorders and emergence of next generation set-top-boxes with IP connectivity. You will then identify areas where use of Google’s search and advertising technology can enhance this user experience and define appropriate products to deliver these user benefits. […]
– Job posting placed online by Google this morning
Google has removed the job listing from their site.
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Is Tivo quaking in their boots? And will Hollywood embrace or fear the upcoming empowerment of consumers?
Historically, even when it’s been in the entertainment industry’s long-term best interests, they’ve staunchly protested many technological advancements. VCRs, Tivo… despite the reality of occasional ad-skipping, these tools have undoubtedly increased viewership (and with videocassettes / DVDs, sales) by an order of magnitude.
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What will the Google tools offer consumers, advertisers and the entertainment folks? And what will be the response of privacy advocates to the advertisement targeting?
Benefits of TV ad targeting
I’m guessing that Google will ultimately succeed in matching (unnamed) user viewer behavior — individually or in the small-aggregate — to smart-targeted ads, and I think that’s great. I’m personally in favor of the new world entertainment order. If I’m watching a nature show, I’d rather be pitched an ad for eco-friendly detergent than an SUV. And more specifically, if I watch a lot of nature shows, then even when I’m watching non-green stuff, I should be shown ads that appeal to my environmental sensibilities.
Targeting by show, not by person?
In terms of privacy, I do hope (and expect) that Google won’t be attaching viewing profiles to personally identifying information (e.g., they won’t know that Adam Lasnik is a liberal environmental softie). That’s how their Gmail works, at least; I believe they actually target per e-mail not to a specific ongoing profile, much less a particular named person.
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Ad targeting challenges and concerns
So many fascinating issues! Even for those of us who aren’t big TV watchers, this heralds an era that’s worth watching. Particularly in the privacy (and perceived privacy) arena… worthy questions abound; should Google profile users long-term? How will it deal with multiple family members? And unlike with Web surfing that generally features one person typing/viewing at a time, TV can often be a family matter. If Dad loves golf and Mom loves gospel music and they’re watching a crime drama together, could viewer profiling work in this messy context? What about inappropriate juxtapositions (ads for funeral homes during coverage of Katrina)? Google takes care to avoid inappropriate and uncomfortable content/ad ties in its current properties, but the visual medium can be so much more powerful and searing…
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Can Google play nice, even with dinosaurs?
And then there are the questions about Google’s current and upcoming relationship with content providers and advertisers. We already know that Google’s relationship with at least some book associations is strained at best (unfairly so, IMHO). And I’ve read quotes from entertainment moguls as being a bit wary of Google in some contexts…
Hopefully this time Google will more strongly endeavor to engage in proactive, open, and reassuring conversations with all affected parties… even those who are governed more by fear than by consumer interests.
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