Google Tries to Get Along With Media

Sep 23, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Google’s ultimate ambition may be to take over the media world, but for now it’s touting its ability to help media companies increase their audiences by matching Web surfers’ interests with relevant advertising.
The Internet search giant last week pointed to a campaign for NBC’s “Heroes” to demonstrate its point, saying an advertising play on Google helped bring viewers back to the show after its lengthy hiatus last spring.
The pitch is designed to help counter a sometimes adversarial relationship some media companies have with Google, and the Internet company delivered its message at a meeting held for media journalists in New York.
Media companies have quarreled with Google and its YouTube video-sharing unit’s use of copyrighted material. They also have been nervous about the shift of marketing dollars to Google and other Internet companies. Google’s plans to use its targeting know-how to change the way ads are bought and sold in traditional media also have put traditional media players ill at ease.
Google last week broadened its advertising portfolio by adding interactive, rich-media gadgets to its online ads and by expanding its AdSense media placement system to Web sites designed for mobile devices.
Tim Armstrong, Google’s president of advertising and commerce, North America, said the company has shifted its advertising model from targeting traditional demographic groups, such as 18- to 34-year-old men, to targeting consumer interests and needs.
Other media companies are looking to move in that direction, but with its presence in the Internet search business, Google is further along in identifying consumer interests. By operating online, the company also is able to reach appropriate consumers for advertisers more efficiently.
Mr. Armstrong added that Google’s ability to target consumers who have specific interests allows marketers to advertise more products than they would using other systems. For example, one tech company he declined to name has moved from advertising eight to 12 of its products per year to some 12,000 products.
The ability to market more products in an efficient way could drive total ad spending to about $1 trillion in the future, up from the current $600 billion, Mr. Armstrong said. That in part explains the rush of companies acquiring or forming new behavioral targeting units.
“We think you can make these connections in the offline world as well,” Mr. Armstrong said.
Google already is experimenting with using its targeting technology to buy radio ads, and the company is selling TV ad time for EchoStar Communications’ Dish satellite service.
With its advertising business growing, Google has divided its ad staff into industry teams, such as automotive, retail, financial services, healthcare and entertainment and media.
Adam Stewart, industry director of the 70-staffer-strong media and entertainment group, said the Internet has become an entertainment hub and that companies in the TV, movie, music and video game markets can reach interested consumers online.
He cited surveys from comScore Media Metrix and VideoMetrix showing that 27 percent of people using broadband spend time online engaged in entertainment-related activities. The number is even larger for people in younger demographics.
Online video in particular is growing, with 133 million people viewing Web video each month in 2007, up 28 percent from 2006.
Studies also are finding that the Internet is gaining added importance in creating awareness of entertainment properties, as more people watch promos for TV shows and film trailers on line.
With its campaign for “Heroes,” Google and NBC placed ads on fan sites, comic book and sci-fi destinations and other sites, employing display spots that specifically urged users to watch the show on NBC on Monday nights.
People who saw the online ads had 60 percent better awareness of the show than people who didn’t see the campaign, the research showed, and tune-in increased 50 percent among viewers 35 and older.
People 35 and younger who saw the campaign were more likely to tune in online, and their traditional TV viewing of the show did not drop off, the companies found. Online tune-in increased fivefold.
Chris Meador, director of media planning at the TV network, said Google is a part of NBC’s fall launch campaigns as well.
Updated at 3:29 p.m.


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