Will Google Put Cable Providers Out of Business With Web TV?

Google TV is coming! What does that mean as far as the user experience is concerned? Most importantly, unprecedented accuracy in delivering ads tailored to individual users’ viewing habits. This is obviously great for the advertiser because it makes their approach far more effective—and for Google who, as their Google TV set-top boxes start becoming popular, could eventually start doing laps around broadcast networks like ABC and CBS and around cable providers.

Google is poised to take their brand of targeted marketing to a whole new level with this device. Like any current TV service provider, Google will naturally be able to target ads to what you are currently watching. They will also, however, be able to target consumers based on the entire catalogue of regular programming that they watch as well as searches performed on the Google TV itself.

But what this means for web video is that high-resolution video on the internet is about to become a lot more important to the average person. As the Google TV set-top boxes become popular, I imagine that demand for hi-res YouTube, Hulu, and even Bit-Torrent content will increase with more and more people using 50” televisions to view online content.

Although details are sketchy, Google TV stands to revolutionize the way we watch TV. One method of implementation Google is mulling: A daisy-chain system by which users would insert their set-top box between the cable box and the TV set. As a result, all TV programming would be filtered through the Google box, providing a completely different user interface and different set of ads. Moreover, this would allow for users to search through TV channels like how they search through websites—as well as other web-based functions.

While many people—consumers, advertisers, and Google—win with Google TV, internet service providers stand to lose, as streaming video beamed straight to set-top boxes could raise substantial bandwidth concerns.

Another subset of people who stand to lose should Google TV take off? Old-school advertising agencies. Traditional agencies have been charging a premium for television advertising without having to prove how well it works. This kind of interest-specific advertising could finally put the pressure on them to produce results.

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