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Think BR: Why Google will get connected television right

While Apple and Yahoo's previous attempts to merge TV and online failed to make a big impression, Matt Mee, EMEA head of strategy at MediaCom, explains why Google TV could be the one to succeed.

Matt Mee: EMEA head of strategy at MediaCom

Matt Mee: EMEA head of strategy at MediaCom

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We’ve been here before: A big name consumer brand promises to seamlessly merge the worlds of online and broadcast TV. They launch a shiny piece of kit and then… nothing happens.

Although technically minded folks have been using their TVs as a gateway to access the web and platforms such as BBC iPlayer for some time, making internet access via the TV simple for the mass market has proved tricky for some of the brightest minds around.

This autumn it’s Google’s turn to succeed where Apple and Yahoo! have failed.

Google may have got the timing right for three key reasons. Not because its technology is better or because it’s smarter than Apple, but simply because we as consumers may be ready to change our behaviour. We just need one final nudge in the right direction.

Firstly, we’ve all got used to the idea that TVs need changing and updating. Cast your minds back to your parents’ house, the same brown box sat in the corner of the room for years, perhaps even decades.

With the rise of widescreen, Freeview, HD and now 3D, the idea that TVs become obsolete is firmly entrenched, consumers are more willing to go out and buy a new TV set.

Secondly, consumers have become accustomed to the idea that good content exists online. Quality and availability has risen dramatically, not just through platforms such as Hulu and iPlayer but via channels on YouTube and any number of other video sharing platforms.

Figures from the IPA’s Touchpoints 3 show that 42% of UK adults have watched TV online and view for 15 minutes on an average day.

Finally, Google’s expertise at making such platforms intuitive and easy to use should ensure that consumers aren’t too frightened by the idea.

Throw in the scale and credibility of Google’s set-building partners Sony and the increasingly familiar Android operating system and you have a platform that’s potentially perfectly timed.

Industry analyst iSuppli Corp suggests that global shipments of IETVs – TVs with built-in internet capability of which Google TV is just one – will hit 28 million, up 125%, this year.

The implication of Google TV, however, is not just that one technology company will secure market share at the expense of another but that it changes our whole approach to advertising.

As more and more people use the internet rather than the dish or aerial to access their entertainment, then more and more of their advertising can be ad-served, which means that you and I may watch the same TV show but we might see very different ad messages.

Using ad-serving technology enables brands to ditch the classic TV audiences and instead trade against multiple variables, using many, many different creative executions to ensure the message reflects the need state of the viewer.

Agencies will become as much about data-management as they are about negotiation and brands will become much more targeted in the way they communicate. It’s a brave new world and Google could be the company that takes us there.

Matt Mee is EMEA head of strategy at MediaCom.

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