A Plan For Future Innovation? It's Worth Googling

At the closing session last week of the National Association of Broadcasters Show, Google’s president of global partnerships, Daniel Alegre, addressed the throngs of TV and radio brass to send a message. Namely: The content industry is “in the midst of massive change.” With myriad platforms seeing exponential innovation in digital and mobile technologies, the legacy media world has been turned upside down and primetime is now whatever, whenever and wherever the audience wanted it to be. 

With what feels like perpetual upheaval in the media ecosystem, Google’s big surprise at the NAB was to offer hope to an industry under siege. “The rise of new content models and connected devices has led to more choice than ever—both for content creators and consumers,” wrote Alegre in a subsequent blog post. “But with this choice and opportunity come new challenges to solve as well.”

If Google sees, and notes, the opportunity in all this disruption, it would be wise for everybody else to take keen notice of what the most powerful media and technology company in the universe is up to. And what it’s up to is what it’s always up to—making life easier for consumers. Google used the NAB to unveil an enhanced search function that includes live TV listings. As Alegre noted at NAB, if you have a jones for “The Big Bang Theory,” Google Search will show you the apps and where the latest episode is, as well as where you can tune your TV at a later date to catch it live.



Tellingly, Google also used the NAB to unveil new features and addressable efficiencies to serve up targeted personalized ads across platforms. Dubbed DoubleClick Dynamic Ad insertion, the service promises to go hand in glove with Google Search TV listings. In addition, DoubleClick clients will be able to prevent multiple car spots appearing in the same commercial pod and do likewise so that alcohol spots don’t abut ones for kids cereal. Several major players have signed on with DoubleClick Dynamic, including Cablevision and Roku, adding to already existing clients such as AMC, Fox News, France’s TF-1 and Brazil’s Globo. 

I learned long ago that when Google ventures into traditional media waters, it’s wise to stay tuned in. I was at NAB in 2007 when Google’s then-CEO, Eric Schmidt, gave a keynote interview. A question was asked by a venture capitalist from the floor: Looking out into the next decade, where should he be thinking of investing? Schmidt bookended his response to the question with all emphasis on one arena: “mobile.” Pretty damn good advice, given that the iPhone would launch two months later. 

And nine years later, Google was back at NAB, offering a list of efforts to address and perhaps solve the challenges of a volatile TV landscape. Hearkening back to Schmidt’s words almost a decade ago, it’s worth noting that mobile searches for video and film have increased 55% in the last year. So, let’s tally it up: A greatly enhanced TV search service, increasingly targeted advertising services across platforms and a particular emphasis on mobile. It all seems like the Emperors of Search may have not-too-subtly presented the industry with some algorithms for success. Sounds like the kind of plan the folks holding too fast to legacy products would be wise to hit the return button on.

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