After a relaxing, relatively-unplugged holiday weekend, I started the day off with a couple of good reads to get the innovation juices flowing. First, an article from the New York Times (brought to my attention via that new LinkedIn widget) on how Google is jumping through hoops these days to cozy up with advertising agencies and pacify their fears about Google’s (imminent?) plans to take over the world. Here’s the cliff noted version:
Ad agencies are unsure what to make of Google because the search company is about a lot more than search these days. Every day, Google continues to launch, acquire, and refine new Web properties that compete with “old media” and the advertising models that support it. Many agencies fear that Google is ultimately trying to make inroads into the agency world in order to steal clients by offering a whole new suite of media planning services. Google claims it has no such plans in the works. While Google may very well have no plans of competing with agencies, the agencies have every right to be scared. AdAge posted an insightful article about how most online advertisers simply don’t get it. Basically, online video officially has a larger viewership than cable television. Yet ad-spend online is a mere $1 billion annually (versus an estimated $70 billion annually in television advertising). We all know the problems old media is facing, and I won’t go into the gory details here, but it’s pretty hard to deny the challenges facing traditional media outlets as competiton from the Web heats up more and more. The beauty of the Web, as David Carson points out in his article, is that it’s interactive. Old media-style advertising simply isn’t designed to be interactive—it’s about one-way messaging. Advertising and programming on the Web, however, is designed to be interactive. People can comment on content, post reactions to their blogs and social networks, share links, and post multi-media responses. But the traditional media companies that have a Web presence are stuck trying apply the old model to the new medium, and that’s leaving them frustrated.
All of this leaves me wondering where the innovation is. There’s clearly a huge opportunity here—for agencies, for media companies, for content providers, for viewers…for the entire media and advertising ecosystem. Google, a media company for all intents and purposes, is one of the few to actually look at things with an innovation perspective. It’s not trying to fit the old model to the new medium; it’s trying to figure out how to make the new medium work for everyone involved. It holds tremendous amounts of data about its users, whether we like it or not. Google knows what we search for, what we click on, what we subscribe to, what we watch on YouTube, what we write about (and read) on Blogger… the list goes on. All of this data means Google is poised to serve up “advertising” (not just pay-per-click, mind you) that’s relevant, targetted, and useful. Ideally, it will figure out multiple models that fit all types of media (it really only had dominance in the search advertising market) and makes everyone happy—agencies included.
I’m curious to see what everyone else’s thoughts are here. How should the wide world of media evolve over the next few years?