What If Television Ads Got Smarter?
Most of us change the channel, or get up to do something else, when a commercial break comes on. But what if that toothpaste ad came on while you were searching for "tooth whitening," and not while you were watching, say, Oprah?
Google is trying to make advertising more of an aid than an interruption. Jordan Hoffner, head of news and premium content partnerships for Google partner YouTube, says his goal is to make ads more relevant for the viewer.
"I don't think that the broadcast networks can really target the way Google can target," Hoffner says.
Ad sales for Google are projected to reach more than $11 billion this year. Last year, according to the company, it paid almost $1 billion in revenue to content partners.
Google and YouTube can be tools for content producers in a few ways. CBS, for example, says that posting clips from The Late Show with David Letterman to YouTube, where they can be viewed by anyone for free, has boosted the show's ratings.
Eepybird, a small comedic team known mainly for producing videos demonstrating the explosive union of Mentos and 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke, ended up turning the popularity of its content into a sponsorship deal. They became the first amateur video producers to make a deal with Google to share ad revenue for their subsequent video, which Mentos and Coca-Cola have sponsored.
"It was really enabling a content owner to get paid, and enabling a sponsor to get their message across in a unique way," Hoffner says. "That's a very strong Google application to the media industry."
But isn't Google worried about the prospect of driving people away by becoming the kind of advertising machine that the television networks have become?
Hoffner thinks it's a matter of how well matched the content and advertising are.
"It's part of the content and the search experience. If you're engaged, you're engaged. I think that's the key to all of it, user engagement."
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