Two announcements about corporate connections caught my attention and I think these are potentially very significant.
October 24, 2007: Google announced a relationship with The Nielsen Company.
...the companies have established a multi-year, strategic relationship. As a first step, the relationship leverages Nielsen’s experience in television audience measurement to bring demographic data to the Google TV Ads™ advertising platform. By combining Nielsen demographic data with aggregated set-top box data, Google can provide advertisers and agencies with comprehensive information to help them create better ads for viewers and maximize the return on their advertising spending.
Google TV Ads is an online platform for buying, selling, measuring and delivering television ads. The platform, which has been operational since May, includes advertising inventory across hundreds of channels and all dayparts. A key benefit of Google TV Ads is the ability to report second-by-second set-top box data so advertisers can evaluate the reach of an ad and only pay for actual set-top box impressions. Advertisers can better understand exactly how their ad is performing and make near real time changes to their TV advertising campaigns to deliver better ads to viewers. Data derived from Nielsen’s representative television ratings panels will provide Google TV Ads advertisers with the demographic composition of the audience.
This is the first time that advertisers and agencies will have this level of detailed measurement available in a single place and at such a large scale. This information is available through the existing Google AdWords™ report center
Moving forward, Google and Nielsen will explore a number of other opportunities to work together to measure online and other media.
November 27, 2007: NBC and TiVo announced a relationship. WSJ reported that:
The agreement, announced today, reflects rising demand in the TV industry for detailed audience viewing information. TiVo, a provider of digital video recorders, about a year ago started offering advertisers second-by-second ratings of programs and commercials based on the viewing habits of its subscribers, as well as other services. Earlier this month, the Alviso, Calif., company added demographic data about the viewers themselves, such as age, income, marital status and ethnicity.
NBC Universal's agreement with TiVo will give the TV concern's networks, such as NBC, Telemundo and Bravo, as well as its NBC owned-and-operated TV stations, access to TiVo's ratings data.
The deal comes as advertisers, media buyers and TV executives continue to grapple with a changing TV ad landscape, where an increasing number of viewers are using digital video recording devices to fast-forward through ads.
With its research, TiVo is competing with industry giant Nielsen Media Research, which also offers commercial-ratings and demographic data. Advertisers, media buyers and TV networks have made many of their ad deals this year based on Nielsen ratings of TV commercials.
So, what are we seeing here?
The set-top box is a critical point of control--whether it is TiVo box or one provided by the cable/satellite operator--for advertisers. Both the relationships (Google-Nielsen and NBC-TiVo) are jockeying to extract valuable data from the set top box. Nielsen has the potential to integrate a broader array of information but Tivo is more widely deployed. It will be interesting to see what other relationships are formed with other entities in the media space (for example: what role if any for Motorola and Cisco/Scientific Atlanta that make the set top boxes--are they simply hardware providers or can they expand to play critical roles here?). There are also huge privacy issues and challenges that both TiVo and Google have dealt with before.
These are not just two random announcements of corporate connections. They reflect the shifts underway and by no means will they be the last ones we see in this space.