Friday, January 06, 2006

A Google personalized TV ad engine?

Robert Cringely's latest column speculates that Google may change the TV advertising industry by targeting ads to your individual interests:
Google is an advertising company. Their edge is granularity.

How often do you see an ad on TV for something you're currently in the market for? I'm guessing almost never. But imagine if everyone watching "American Idol" only saw ads for things they might really buy? Or, better yet, only saw ads for things they had already expressed an interest in? The value of those same 30-second commercial slots would increase by orders of magnitude.

Google imagines a world where only single people see ads, and people who can't drive see ads from taxi companies where others see Toyota campaigns. Where fraternities see ads for strip clubs, beer, Cancun weekends and LSAT prep courses, and only seniors (and their adult children) see ads for Alzheimer's drugs.

What would be the value of that increased efficiency?
We are all bombarded by advertising in our daily lives. Junk mail, ads in magazines, TV ads, it is all ineffective mass market noise pummeling us with things we don't want. It is a useless waste of time, a missed opportunity to capture a fleeting glimpse of my attention.

Advertising is content, potentially useful information about products and services. The advertisements we see should be useful and interesting, not annoying and irrelevant. Targeted to advertising to individual interests, personalizing advertising, can make advertisements helpful and relevant.

See also my previous posts, "Personalized TV advertising" and "Google wants to change advertising".

[Cringely article via Michael Bazeley]


Anonymous said...

I get ya re targeted Google advertising and the much higher $paycheck based upon a more specific demo for THAT product.

But if all we were ever exposed to was what we only liked, we'd all still be playing with LEGOs as our favorite toy and eating crustless PB & jelly sandwiches. It's exposure to the new, the different, the obscure that makes us yearn for something, anything other than a daily rote of nose to tail living and cultural stagnation. Why watch a PC ad when I already own a typewriter? Why subscribe to Verizon Wireless when I already have a telephone? Why should I go on a Carnival cruise if I have a backyard with the baby's pool? Why fly American Airlines when I own a Buick and the highways are free? Why but Kleenex tissues when I wear longsleeve shirts? Why patronize Lens Crafters when I can squint for free? Why buy a Budweiser when I already drink milk? Why go to Disney World when I have a YMCA? Why take Zocor when I already cut back on my pizza & burgers? Humphrey Bogart, John Garfield, James Cagney, Clark Gable . . . who? And what is Turner Classic Movies anyway? I only watch "in color."

Targeted ads narrowcast and limit exposure to new exciting, and disappointing, products and services.

. . . if your old girlfriend didn't dumped ya, you would have never met that woman who became your wife nor had those terrific, if not expensive, children!

Greg Linden said...

I see what you're saying, Shelly. You're thinking that personalization could pigeonhole people, never showing them anything new.

The point of personalization is exactly the opposite, to aid discovery, to help people find stuff they probably wouldn't find on their own. In well designed systems, pigeonholing is avoid by not limiting to narrowly defined interests and by supplementing the selections with experiments to learn about new interests.

The key is to make sure the personalization reaches beyond the obvious and into the surprising. If you do that, personalization reveals the full breadth of the options available and enhances serendipity.

Personalization helps focus people's attention on what is interesting, but that focus always should be on discovering the new, not repeating the old.