Apple TV, Google TV, And Google TV Ads Just over a year ago, Apple launched the second generation of its Apple TV system, shifting entirely away from locally stored content and instead focusing on streaming from computers, iOS devices, and iTunes. The device was both a relative success and a relative failure, selling 2 million units in its first six months on the market -- significantly better than the first-generation Apple TV, but still firmly in the “hobby” category for a company whose iPhone 4S sold 4 million units in its first weekend.
At around the same time as the revamped Apple box was hitting the shelves, Google came out with its first attempt at cracking the elusive living room. This one received an even more tepid reaction from the media, with TechCrunch calling it “an overpriced DLNA client and Netflix streamer.”
Now both companies are generating extensive blogo-buzz over what’s coming next to the TV set. Google launched its second-generation device last week, and in the Steve Jobs biography, Walter Isaacson quotes the Apple Man as saying, “I finally cracked it” -- television, that is.
As per normal, the media response to the two companies has been wildly different. Google TV 2.0 received, at best, the benefit of the doubt, while everyone from Forbes to The Wall Street Journalto -- wait for it -- the Google TV Forum was joining the speculative frenzy about what, exactly, Apple’s televised revolution might look like. Based on a four-word quote from a guy who passed away.
Ultimately, though, the TV wars are going to come down to content, and in that regard neither company is doing particularly well. TechCrunch’s Matt Burns, even allowing for the awesome improvements in Google TV’s UI, says, “it’s still nothing more than a fancy Netflix and YouTube box.” And just yesterday, CBS CEO Les Moonves revealed that his company turned down the opportunity to partner with Apple as long as the deal was based on ad splits rather than licensing.
Speaking of ad splits, the only Google TV I use happens to be another ugly stepchild of the search giant’s: Google TV Ads, the purchasing platform for remnant airtime. Ironically, while Google TV is attempting to co-opt the broadcast experience, Google TV Ads gives smaller advertisers the opportunity to jump into traditional televised commercials on a smaller scale, with more control and less commitment than is usual with TV advertising. With Google TV Ads, you can select your channel, your daypart, your programming. You can set a maximum CPM and, if you choose a demographic, you will only pay for in-demographic impressions. Best of all, you can change all of these variables, with only a few days’ notice -- exactly the kind of dynamic responsiveness TV advertising needs in this age of rapid iterations and lean development.
Google TV and Apple TV will continue to fight it out, and consumers may or may not benefit. But as long as broadcast is still around, Google TV Ads is a step in the right direction for advertisers, offering exactly what we need: precision, rapid adaptability, and access to the mass market. At least Mountain View understands one of its audiences.