In 2010, Google began its venture into web TV with what it dubbed the "Google TV." Google at the time partnered with consumer manufacturers of the likes of Sony to create set-top box receivers which plugged into your TV and are connected to the internet (using a regular WIFI connection). The software operating these set top boxes was developed by Google and allowed the user to not only watch regular TV programs but it also allowed users access to most of Google's services e.g. Play, Chrome and YouTube.
It's been a long wait for UK users, but they can now also enjoy the benefits of Google TV which have thus far been exclusive to the States. This leads us to ask what will be the implications to the way UK users digest onscreen TV content and what does the future hold for Search in general?
Precision Targeting for Ad Serving
For advertisers the real value of Google TV is in the fact that it can serve viewers targeted ads. This is something of a Holy Grail for marketers and Google reckons they've cracked it. Rather than vying for space on certain programming scheduling in the hope that the right demographic is watching. Google TV can dynamically work out what ads a viewer may want to see, based on their usage history. Privacy concerns aside, it seems like the next logical step for TV to be heading in.
Imagine you are now watching a cookery program on your Google TV, you might see an ad for the programs official recipe book containing a link to an online store where you can purchase it, this vision Is now a reality with the Google TV.
Content is Undoubtedly King
As the saying goes: 'Content is King' and with Web TV this saying can be applied not just to TV content but also the apps that power them. That's why Google is encouraging developers to create quality TV apps. Obviously, the way we interact with a TV being totally different than with say a computer, (re)thinking how these apps will work on TV needs to take place.
The possibility of websites optimised for TV with more friendly layouts and colour schemes to suit the format. Perhaps we might eventually see textual content being spoken aloud to the viewer using audio voice synthesis much like SIRI. Google TV have released their own optimisation guidelines found here to help out designers.
How Brands Could Use Google TV
As well as the methods already mentioned such as targeted advertising, Google TV also interacts with mobile/tablets and desktop/laptop. For instance, it is possible to use content on your laptop or tablet to interact with the Google TV.
For a marketer, this may be useful in several ways e.g. a brand might offer website exclusive content for Google TV viewers only, the user might view this on his laptop and be able to immediately beam the content to his TV in the click of a button. One of the most successful examples to date, is a Coke campaign which allowed users to interact with a virtual Polar Bear and whilst this took place updates and messages were sent to the users social networking platforms.
Search and Google TV
Because Google TV collects data on users habits, it not only is able to suggest content tailored to users taste but also allows advertisers to access a wealth of information. This gives advertisers the ability to target viewers in a way they have never enjoyed thus far on a TV medium, so not only will we see ads serve to a very specific demographic but we see the video content itself become more tailored to specific viewers. With TV being a visual medium, good old fashioned text content may indeed be a thing of the past which will certainly impact SEO which relies on text to gain relevancy. One might see a resurgence of popularity for technologies like Flash which allow the quick creation of graphic intensiveinterfaces. Again, this will impact visibility of sites to search engines.
What the Future May Hold
The success of Google TV will depend largely on its ease-of-use and how ordinary consumers will perceive the proposition here in the UK. Google has failed in the past when launching products and services. The Smart TV project hasn't gone by without its hitches notably the withdrawal of Logitech, an original partner that cited substantial losses as the reason for leaving the project. Also, the take up of wireless and HD televisions will also affect the overall usage numbers - the UK population has around 1m interactive ready TVs which is a drop in the ocean compared to how many regular TVs are out there. And who knows how many of that 1m actively use the TV instead of say a tablet to view online content. Google has a lot of potential in this market as it offers the firm another potentially lucrative route into selling sponsored advertising as well as propagating Google's own software platforms.
Written in conjunction with Neilson Hall, Head of SEO, iProspect
Follow Ben Wood on Twitter: www.twitter.com/iprospectuk