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The Revolution Will Be Televised

by Joshua Baze & Matt Ballek / February 22, 2011

Note: This blog entry is available in English only.

The Revolution Will Be Televised: Google TV, the Death of Digital as We Know It, and the Rebirth of the Big Idea

Everything you’ve done in digital the last seven years won’t matter within a matter of months.

We hate to be the ones to tell you this. We really do. But, like so many times before, everything you thought you knew about the digital space and how to tell your brand’s story within it is only a few months away from changing. Again.

The culprit has a familiar name: Google. Only this time, it has this strange “TV” suffix tagged to the end of it. And it’s that strange “TV” at the end of it that’s the game changer. Not just for your digital content.  For ALL of your content.

Don’t believe us? Too big to be true? Just one more supersized serving of hyperbole from an agency hoping to get your attention? Keep reading.

Google TV: What It Is and How It Changes Everything

 

Built on Google’s Android operating system, Google TV is a platform—not just a single device. At launch, Google TV will be available as a set-top box from Logitech, or built into Sony TVs and Blu-ray players. In time (and likely not much of it), the Google TV platform will surely find its way into a myriad of other entertainment devices.

Google TV itself acts as a hub. You bring your own Internet connection and TV service provider (cable, satellite, etc.), and Google TV gives you apps and a search bar.

The Google search bar (complete with angelic glow) now has a home on your screen. Search results can include videos from YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, etc., as well as live TV and content on your DVR. Because you’ll need more than just numbers to navigate this new interface, Google TV remotes will incorporate some form of QWERTY keyboard along with the ability to turn your smartphone into a remote control via apps.

Speaking of apps, Google TV has them. Apps range from simple music and photo-viewing capabilities to branded video-viewing experiences mixed with social media. This area alone has the potential to turn into a hotbed of innovation for developers and content creators.

What Does This Mean for CMOs and Their Brands?

Put simply, Google TV means that anything you’ve ever seen on any screen in your life is now in direct competition with your marketing content. As Google TV is quickly mainstreamed, the line between broadcast and digital will become completely artificial until it ceases to exist entirely. All multimedia content can and will be consumed through a single screen. Which means the skateboarding video your 11-year-old son just posted to his Facebook page is now, very literally, in direct competition with Jay Leno on NBC, TrueBlood on HBO, Columbia Pictures Spiderman 4 and Rockstar Games “Grand Theft Auto 5.” And remember: we’re talking about competition not just for share of attention span, but share of advertising dollars.

The Oklahoma Land Rush of Branded Content lies just ahead of us. And very few brands have wagons at the starting lines. The arrival of Google TV heralds the creation of a media marketplace where, for the first time in a long time (and possibly ever), content is content, agnostic of channel, and regardless of screen. The idea of “channel” becomes increasingly irrelevant as we move toward a future where a screen is a screen is a screen, and web content becomes increasingly indistinguishable from television content.  Content will become content.  And it will be fighting like hell for viewers.

Google TV: How to Win

 

How do you win when your customers will have complete control over EVERYTHING they view?  Have better content than anyone else.

The Best Content

Branded content is nothing new. From the sponsored radio show serials of the ‘30s to present day guerilla marketing stunts, brands have always been at home creating content they believe their consumers will like and formally aligning themselves with that content.  For at least 80 years, brands have been able to create or co-opt content in a very static way.

What Google TV technology does is allow for dynamic branded content, fundamentally altering the depth to which a consumer can engage and interact with branded content. Let’s look at an example to understand the difference.

Lifetime TV’s reality competition show Project Runway pits aspiring fashion designers from across America against one another in a series of competitive design exercises that are evaluated by a panel of expert celebrity judges. The show has a number of official sponsorships—for hair, makeup, shoes, accessories, etc. Along with significant placement within the program, all of these brands have developed online activations such as special Facebook tabs, how-to videos of winning looks on their websites, and contests and other promotions in the digital space. All of these digital activations rely on the viewer being so compelled by a product integration that they either leave the program they’re watching to enter another media channel; or remember how much they liked the brand within that program at some point when they’re online, and hopefully remember what specific activation they wanted to seek out in the digital space. Despite the success of many brands partnerships with such integrations, it’s a huge gamble, because it relies on consumers either leaving the channel they were initially motivated within, or remembering the brand some time later when they’re online.

Google TV totally eradicates this. Using Google TV, any of the brands currently sponsoring Project Runway could, for example, do the following:

  • Create such a program themselves, without having to pay partnership costs to Lifetime, allowing them to create the show however they want instead of relying on whatever the network developed.
  • Create exclusivity for themselves as the only brand within the show, or conversely, open up their program to other brands, creating a new revenue stream.
  • “Broadcast” the show 24/7/365 on-demand on their .com (or .TV) property, thereby being available literally around-the-clock instead of one hour a week.
  • Provide click-into features, allowing viewers to click deeper into the programming for how-tos, product demos, product info, click to purchase, or any other layer the brand would like to create.
  • Optimize their program for portability to smartphones and tablets.
  • Or any other number of interactions you can think of. The possibilities are boundless.

In the age of Google TV, brands will be limited only by their own savvy about the platform, and the courage and creativity of their marketing partners and agencies.

 

Conclusions

Google TV provides powerful opportunities for brands to create proprietary, deeply interactive content on their own terms.

But, this possibility is not without peril. A few guiding principles should help brands and their agency partners develop the right types of branded content for their customers.

 

 

 

Remember, This Is Not about You; It’s about Them

Google TV will give you the power to create immersive brand experiences. Think about what your customers (current and potential) are like and what they like. Design content and experiences that meet their desires, adding deeper “brand” layers only in ways that are useful to your customers.

 

Concept for One Screen: Design for Big Screens; Optimize for Small Screens

A great deal of your digital content will still be consumed primarily on a computer screen. As Google TV penetration rates quickly grow over the next several years, those experiences will be moving to even bigger screens. Remember people consume media on big screens, and “snack” on media on small screens. Very few of your customers will watch a half hour video on their phone or iPod. Design branded content experience for bigger screens, and optimize that content as much as possible for small screen consumption. Think of ancillary “little brother content” that can be consumed in short bursts (a five-minute train ride; a sit-down in the bathroom) to accentuate the overall experience.

 

Quality Content Trumps All

Think of all of the content you consume: from your computer, your TV, the radio in your car, the Xbox in your living room, the iPod in your pocket, and the Blackberry on your belt.  All of that content is now going to be coming through a  single channel—”The Screen”—which will exist on all of those devices. How are you going to pick and choose what you want to experience— especially when your e-mail starts competing with your favorite show and that video game you’re addicted to?

Simply put, the better your content is, the more likely it will be to make the cut. This means big ideas that are well produced. There will be no room in the “single-channel,” multidevice future for ham-fisted attempts at branded content. Only content with very real entertainment value or tangible benefits will survive. And the earlier your brand is there, commanding attention and grabbing up share, the less difficult it will be to attract fans and followers as everyone—and we mean everyone—shows up to the single-screen channel of the future. Google has changed the world—again. Google TV gives your brand the exciting chance to be among the first to explore the amazing new, truly interactive possibilities of the future.  But it also presents the opportunity to miss an opportunity. Only by starting to think now about the many ways Google TV will change how brand content is encountered and consumed can brands ensure their place in the minds of the consumer of the not-very-distant future.

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