Google's Ad Success Has Lessons For Television
from the ads-are-content dept
Nowhere is that conventional view of advertising more entrenched than in the television industry, which is constantly wringing its hands (and filing lawsuits) over the detrimental impact of devices like the TiVo and Replay TV that include ad-skipping technology. I think the Google example demonstrates how short-sighted that attitude is. With a little ingenuity, TV networks could be using devices like TiVo the same way Google uses click-through statistics: as a way to gather data on user attitudes toward different ads. If networks priced ad inventory the same way Google does, giving a discount to advertisers whose ads had lower skip rates, advertisers would respond by trying to make more entertaining and relevant ads. And as ads became more entertaining and useful, viewers would be less likely to pick up the remote and push the "30-second skip" button.
Even more radical, the networks could be using TiVo-like devices to distribute shows and ads directly over the Internet. In that case, the device could display a different set of ads to each viewer, with the ads chosen based on the individual viewer's show-watching and ad-skipping history as well as some basic demographic characteristics. For example, users who frequently skip car ads would be shown fewer car ads. Viewers under 40 would never be shown ads for adult diapers, and all-male households would never be shown ads for feminine hygiene products. Such a system would be a win-win for both advertisers and viewers: viewers would find ads more useful and less irritating, while advertisers would be willing to pay higher rates for ads that were precisely targeted at relevant subgroups. And that would solve the "TiVo problem" once and for all: not by forcing users to watch ads they'd rather avoid, but by finding ways to show users ads they actually find entertaining and useful.