Google scored its first top 10 cable MSO by landing the local-ad sales unit of Cox Communications as an affiliate of Google's TV advertising sales network. Google says Suddenlink Communications is about to come aboard, too.
The arrangement announced today adds Cox Media and its advertising operations reaching close to 6 million homes to Google TV Ads, a web-based platform that lets advertisers book airtime and reserve rates for available inventory. Previously announced partners include DirecTV, Verizon's FiOS TV and ViaMedia, the Kentucky rep firm that also sells time on behalf of FiOS. Bend Broadband of Oregon also uses the Google TV Ads system. With the Cox deal, Google says it now represents providers reaching 42 million homes.
Google TV Ads is the most prominent of several attempts made by Internet companies to marry cable ad inventory with web-based ad reservation systems. Although most local avails continue to be sold in person, by dedicated reps, the Google TV Ads platform and other related businesses add a new wrinkle to cable advertising sales by allowing advertisers to pore through available networks and unsold spots and reserve time in accordance with rates and business rules set by multichannel video companies.
The Cox alliance coincides with a new wrinkle to Google TV Ads, which now intends to aggregate available spot inventory across all its affiliates into a "national inventory pool" that will give advertisers the opportunity to present commercials across the entire Google TV Ads network. In explaining the concept, Google used the term "slices" to connote various spot avails that may not have significant audience reach uniquely, but can muster meaningful viewership in combination. "As thousands of these slices are aggregated, this pool represents a large national audience that marketers can then customize to their audience goals."
In a Google TV Ads blog post, Cox Media VP Mike Ziegler said the Google TV Ads platform "allows us to reach new market segments through a highly automated and efficient distribution platform. We are pleased to be part of bringing new television opportunities to Google advertisers.”
Our take: Have faith, local cable reps. Your job isn't going to be replaced by a robot just yet. We've been watching the web-based inventory reservation market emerge for awhile now, tracing back to the origins of Spot Runner, a category pioneer, in 2006. The truth is that local reps (the human kind) will be able to wring higher per-spot rates from local advertisers for a long time to come. But the Google TV Ads platform does open up available inventory to a much wider range of advertisers than a local sales team can possibly reach. It's that promise -- the idea of adding revenue through sales of unspoken avails to national-market advertisers -- that appeals to multichannel video companies.
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