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Google: Offline Media a Real Test



Google continues to push into traditional media, but its various efforts aimed at bringing digital, auction-based buying and selling to TV and print are still several years from fully impacting the company's revenue, according to comments made by one of its executives at the 35th annual UBS Global Media Conference here today.

Tim Armstrong, Google's president, advertising and commerce, North America, said that offline media "has been a real test for us." Armstrong pointed to the company's work with satellite TV provider Echostar and various magazines and newspapers as signs of solid progress, but characterized its ultimate plan to offer media buyers a single "digital dashboard" for buying across media at a "very, very early stage." It's probably "two to three to five years out," according to Armstrong.

Armstrong pointed out that Google's renowned search advertising business, which continues to generate the vast majority of its revenue, itself took several years to develop. Traditional media advertising "might take us a bit longer," he said.

When asked what were the biggest problems Google is facing in getting these initiatives off the ground, Armstrong pointed to the "process" inherent to traditional media companies and agencies. "These are very big businesses," he said. "At a very basic level, they are testing each of these platforms. ... There is a huge level of interest and a huge level of work to be done."

One area of opportunity that Armstrong said Google was enthusiastic about was cable TV. While "the TV business is doing very well," he said, smaller cable TV networks show a "big variance in CPMs." He believes that if Google is able to bring more data and digitization to the process, that will benefit smaller networks and less popular shows, some of which existing third-party researchers do not measure. "We see value in different levels of programming," he said. "We're looking at really spreading the advertising deeper into programming."



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