With data, of course! Google, which sells TV ads, is now subscribing to TiVo's user data, so they can make ads more "accountable," just like online. This is good, right? Depends on who you ask.
Google's game here is obvious: by analyzing this anonymized sea of TiVo viewer data, they can help customers target their ads more accurately. Ad buyers also win, because they have a better sense of exactly how many people are actually seeing their ads. Guess who doesn't like this plan!:
Now, with TiVo's data, collected from millions of digital video recorders across the country, Google can tell exactly which of those commercials are being bypassed. If all the commercials are being skipped, the channel gets no money. It's easy to see why TV executives get heartburn over this.
Between my cable box's DVR function and my computer, I rarely watch live TV. And when I do, I usually end up flipping around during commercials. I know I'm not alone, and I know this is causing problems for networks, who are pushing more and more of their advertising into show, instead of between them.
Google, which already licenses similar data from Dish Network, is giving us a preview of how this kind of thing will work for everyone in the future—soon, data detailing what people are and aren't watching will be too present, too obvious to ignore, and networks will have to acknowledge that hey, nobody is watching ads anymore. In the long term this will make advertising more effective and efficient, but it could also kneecap TV ad sales as a whole. Or not! Says Google:
Our system makes it easy for people to buy TV ads. We're lowering the barriers to entry, which has the effect of growing the market.
Somehow I imagine "lowering the barriers for entry" isn't on the top of NBC's to-do list right now. Google will kill all. [LAT]