Google wants to bring the same types of targeted ads it offers on the web to the television sets of Google Fiber customers. The company recently announced a trial program for Google Fiber in Kansas City that will deliver ads from local businesses based on subscribers’ location, current programming, and viewing history.
Google Fiber could, for example, show an ad for a nearby sporting goods store during NFL football on Sunday afternoons. As with Google’s online ads, advertisers will only pay for ads that viewers see, and businesses can limit the number of time their ad appears on a subscriber’s television.
Like all cable companies, Google Fiber has the ability to insert ads into broadcast programming.
The story behind the story: Google Fiber’s program will likely raise privacy concerns since the company wants to target advertising based on viewer habits. Privacy is a little bit different, however, with Google the cable/Internet provider versus Google the online monolith.
First, Google Fiber already knows a customer’s physical location in order to deliver its services and monthly bills. Showing ads based on current programming also shouldn’t be a problem since it’s just a more precise version of the demographic ad targeting that happens now. But storing your viewing history to target ads is new and that’s where some subscribers may be uncomfortable—especially if it gets tied to your Google account. Google says you can opt-out of ads based on viewing history, which could allay at least some concerns.
Advertisers already love ad targeting on the web and there’s no reason to think they won’t also fall in love with targeted TV ads.
Like the web, however, Google Fiber’s new scheme could drive down the cost of TV advertising the way it drove down advertising on the web. When you’re paying for specific views and impressions, rates tend to get a whole lot cheaper than the costs of traditional blanket TV ad coverage.
A world of cheaper TV ads may suit Google Fiber, but competing cable companies may not be too thrilled with the concept. That may be why it took a company like Google to harness the power of set-top boxes to even try out this idea on a traditional medium like television.