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The Goggle Box January 9, 2008

Posted by James Warren in blue sky, geeky stuff, media.

For the past couple of years I’ve been banging on to anyone that will listen that Google will own the future of TV.  Not from a content point of view, but a ‘programme search’ and tailored advertising point of view.  Well, they’ve made the first move here it would appear.  It’s interesting that the assumption is that Google wants to shove ‘internet content’ into our sitting rooms.  I think this is fundamentally wrong – I believe they’ll make it easier to find stuff that’s already on TV (and of course elsewhere too).  Don’t think internet, think content and advertising – then I think it begins to make a great deal of sense.

I anticipate seeing the Google interface when I switch on my TV, so that I can search for stuff I want to watch.  It will check what related programmes are on now, in the future (so I can tell the box to record them), what’s available on-demand (free or paid), what I’ve Sky+ed, what I have in my digital/DVD/video collection… even user-generated content.  Sponsored content – which would be contextual, dayparted, connected to the rest of my life and even linked to searches I’d made earlier in the day via Google at work – would be clearly differentiated from real content.  And the ads in between programmes would be similarly tailored to my life/needs etc…

I can’t see anyway that this wouldn’t be absolutely brilliant – for me, for broadcasters and for advertisers.  I can see Apple edging ever closer to a similar solution – but the advertising-funded model that Google can provide will beat any iTunes-based solution, I think (although iTunes content will be among the search results spat back, of course).

Perhaps I need to get out more?


1. Simon Marks - January 10, 2008

Why Google? There are plenty of other players in this space, who have quite a bit more experience. Microsoft for one, which already makes set-top boxes (which is where the necessary expertise really has to come from), and Apple, as you point out.

It’s still broadly the content owners who have the power here – Sky was able to kill off Tivo even though it had a far better interface. And the TV manufacturers themselves won’t necessarily see the benefit of giving this market away to Google.

I think that, like phones, Google won’t find it quite so easy to use it’s muscle to win in this space. Just as Microsoft experience, Google will quickly find that just having a lot of cash doesn’t mean you can buy yourself into any market you want.

2. James Warren - January 10, 2008

Hi Simon. Thanks for your comment. Got used to the pink walls yet?

I don’t think the future of TV is about the hardware at all – this isn’t about set-top boxes. Rather, this is about search (letting me find stuff to watch rather than read (and ‘proper’ broadcast stuff to watch, not 10 minute low quality internet video content)) and it’s about advertising. All that’s required is a common standard for attaching metadata to broadcast video content (which probably already exists, for all I know) and we’re away. As a user, you just ‘sign in’ to whichever TV you happen to be in front of and bingo – there’s all your stuff and all your preferences etc. This is about the network, not the set top box.

It’ll be interesting to see who does come out on top. If I’m not mistaken, TV is where the real advertising bucks lie – so it makes sense that Google (*the* advertising company) would make it its aim to corner the TV ad market. And why wouldn’t the content providers and advertisers welcome that? Highly targeted content and ads. And as a media consumer (previously known as the viewer) I’d be delighted, as I’ll find precisely what I want to watch quickly and without fuss.

As for others also having an opportunity in this space, I don’t deny that. But first of all, check this out. Double triple ouch.

3. Robbie Clutton - January 10, 2008

Hi James,

(found your blog through twitter.com/arsenal_scores). This is an area I’m also interested in and I think you’ve got some good insight there. Here are my takes on what’s currently available, though this offers a glimpse at what we might see…



4. Paul - January 10, 2008

I agree James – it’s all about personalisation. What you are suggesting is a kind of thin-client 2.0 argument for consumers. Errr….I think

5. James Warren - January 11, 2008

Hi Robbie – thanks for dropping by. That arsenal_scores twitter feed is a beautiful thing. I’ve read your posts with interest – the xbox/BT Vision announcement is interesting, f’sure. But it’s about hardware convergence more than anything else. To work, the future of TV needs to move beyond hardware – it needs to be just, simple. What I want, in very simplistic terms, is a search option as part of my EPG, that shows me what broadcast content matches my search terms – content that is either on now, about to be on, is on in the future (so I can choose to record it), is available on demand or that I’ve recorded in the past. Easy. I think Google will ‘win’ because Google already provides me with stuff I want to read/look at and also provides the advertisers with great results.

Hullo Macca. Yes, kind of. This isn’t about computer technology, I don’t think. This is about using internet-style content metadata for broadcast to better enable search (and therefore better advertising).

6. Ryan Anderson - January 13, 2008

The next big corporate battle will be about the future of television. Google will almost certainly be one of the players, but they have yet to make a significant innovation in the space. Microsoft has been inventing for almost 10 years, and already have the reach into living rooms with the XBOX360. Doesn’t mean they have a lock, but I’d call them the front runners at this point.

7. Matt Ravden - January 23, 2008

what a lot of pants.

8. Susan - February 14, 2008

Hi Everyone,

I am so glad I found your blog by accident.

We are a group of very experienced communicators who recently graduated from an Executive Master in Corporate Communication program here in Copenhagen (Denmark). We have been looking for a blog which shares our passion for communication and it looks like we found one.

Keep up the good work. We look forward to keeping in touch!


9. Ed - February 17, 2008

I think your point about Google is really interesting and accurate (in my opinion). They could take over, to an important degree, from mainstream commercial broadcasters. But there will always be an important gap for the BBCs of this world, making and broadcasting TV free of commercial pressures (to one degree or another).

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