Google's rumored foray into managing television ads with its AdWords platform has entered the next phase with a limited trial program over EchoStar's Dish Network across the U.S. and Astound Cable, a local cable system in the Bay Area.
The tests, which were spotted last month, were announced last night by Google and EchoStar. A small group of advertisers are participating in the test, and more will be added as it progresses, expected to be in a "relatively short time" according to Keval Desai, director of product management, Google TV advertising.
Google has been testing ways to extend its AdWords ad management platform beyond the search and contextual ads that are its bread and butter. Recent moves offline into print and radio have had limited success, while online tests include online video and in-game ads.
Desai said that Google sees a move to manage TV ads as a natural extension of its platform, especially as television becomes more interactive, and advertisers begin to demand from TV more of the qualities that make Google successful online.
"TV is becoming like the Web. You have audience segmentation; users care about relevant messaging; advertisers care about aggregating an audience efficiently and getting measurements on how they're messaging with you; and inventory owners like to monetize their viewership, even if it's a small viewership," Desai said. "We're able to have some positive impact on those problems on the Internet side, so we expect to have a similar impact on the television side."
Under the system, EchoStar and Astound will make available to Google advertisers inventory across all channels and dayparts. If the inventory is sold out, the operators will make more available as needed, Desai said. Pricing will be by CPM, under the usual AdWords auction model, with inventory from each provider available in the same marketplace. Ads can be scheduled to appear as early as a day after uploading, he said.
Targeting can be done by network, daypart, region or demographic of the network. No targeting will be done to individuals or households, so users should not worry about the security of security of their account or usage data collected by the provider, Desai said.
Advertisers must supply their own video file to upload, though Google can recommend partners to assist in creating the ad. Any standard format the network accepts can be used, though most typically the :30 spot will be the standard. The file is uploaded to the "head end" TV service providers, who will insert the ads via their usual process, he said.
Tracking will be done via set-top boxes, with reporting to include aggregate impressions (again, with no individual- or household-specific data), as well as data on how long an ad was viewed.