In his inaugural year on the job at Google, Michael Steib launched the first major auction-based system for buying television spots and then guided a partnership between the world’s biggest search engine and the world’s most powerful TV ratings company.
Mr. Steib, the director of TV ads at Google, joined the search giant in January 2007. In the spring Google began testing a commercial ad system for TV with EchoStar and a handful of advertisers, including 1800flowers.com, Intel and eTrade.
Google TV Ads is modeled after Google Ad Words, the auction system that enabled Google to monetize Web search.
Mr. Steib’s job is to bring the same type of efficiency and instant feedback to TV ads, along with more advertisers, TV networks and multichannel partners.
The opportunity is huge. An auction-based system has the potential to shift the traditional ways of buying and selling TV ads, especially as advertisers continue to clamor for better metrics and more accountability in TV buying. Google’s TV ad buying system brings online measurability and metrics to TV ads for the first time.
“There are new advertisers and new budgets coming to television, and that is something I think folks can get really excited about,” he said. “There has been this trend to more online spending, and what we are doing is taking the things that make online spending great, like granular data, and bringing them back to TV. The pendulum is swinging back in a positive direction for TV.”
Mr. Steib doesn’t expect Google TV ads to cut into online ad spending. Rather, Google TV ads can grow the current TV ad business, he said. “This lowers the cost of doing business and lets an agency focus on more of the consultative, high-value stuff they do for clients,” he said.
Google TV ads works best for simple spots. The auctions occur daily and the spots go to the highest bidder, so the Google system won’t work when advertisers need to plan months in advance or make bigger buys that include product placements or interactive components, for instance.
Advertisers are pleased so far. “It’s a very progressive opportunity for mainstream marketers to innovate within an established medium,” said Nick Brien, CEO of Universal McCann, which has placed Intel and other clients in Google TV ads.
“What makes Mike so special is that he is the consummate professional who has a passion for what he does. His desire to excel makes all those who come in contact with him want to do the same,” said Peggy Green, president of broadcast and entertainment at Zenith Media, who also has placed clients in Google TV ads.
Mr. Steib began his TV career at NBC Universal, most recently as general manager for strategic ventures for NBC TV stations. His TV background is appealing to advertisers. “He understands TV so well in the traditional sense and he is able to apply the right context for Google TV, both in terms of how to use it and how to evaluate everything we are doing for our clients,” Mr. Brien said.
Universal McCann will continue to use Google TV Ads in 2008, and Mr. Steib wants to bring new partners to the project. “You will see us open up the platform to accept more advertisers,” Mr. Steib said.
He declined to reveal the growth rate in dollars or ad partners in 2007, but said Google places TV ads for advertisers in every major category, from pharmaceutical to auto to health. “We have some of the largest advertisers in TV ranging all the way to people who have never done TV,” Mr. Steib said.
That includes companies such as Fragrance.net, which experimented with TV for the first time last year using Google’s system. After its Google TV Ads campaign ran, FragranceNet.com saw a 35% increase in visitors to its Web site.
AT A GLANCE
Name: Michael Steib
Title: Director of TV ads at Google
How long in current position: One year
Date of birth: May 28, 1976
Place of birth: Hollywood, Fla.
What to watch for: Google and Nielsen inked a strategic partnership last fall. In 2008, Google should begin to integrate household data from set-top boxes with demographic data from Nielsen.
Who knew? Mr. Steib is on the board of directors for Career Gear, a national nonprofit that helps men in need to get and keep jobs and to become successful fathers and community leaders. Last year the association helped more than 1,100 men return to work.