As we know, Google is constantly expanding the scope of its business in all directions. Constant engagement with their users in innovative ways is at the crux of Google’s business model. Whether we are talking search, social, mobile or any other aspect of the Google’s business, this engagement increases the value they can provide to their users by making their experience as seamless as possible. Well, Google seems to be integrating itself with our personal lives once more, capitalizing on the multi-screen metamorphosis that has taken hold of society today.
Recently, Google was granted a patent that allows them to incorporate what a user is watching on TV as a factor when determining what to display on the search results for that user. I haven’t found exactly how Google is going to be able to determine what shows are being watched but apparently if they were able to determine shows being displayed on TV in proximity to the device being used for a search, they will use this data to modify your results. Speculation says it will be something along the lines of TV Cards being used in Google’s personal assistant, Google Now. Google Now’s TV Cards already uses your TV to make suggestions about shows you are watching and may like. If your TV is loud enough, your smart phone can detect the audio and determine the show you are watching. So, the technology is essentially already there for Google to alter their search results based on what you are watching, assuming your volume is loud enough. The example in the patent discusses cars, Porche’s in particular. If a consumer is watching a TV show about a specific type of Porshce, and Google recognizes it, they can show search results about that particular type of Porsche if you then go on a device and search for something along the lines of “Porsche”, “sports car” or even just “cars”. Head of Google’s Webspam Team, Matt Cutts, recently released a statement saying that even though they have the patent, “it doesn’t mean they are necessarily using that patent”. However, I ask the question, why get a patent like this, which will provide even more personal data to enhance search results, if you aren’t going to use it. Google may not make any “official” use of it any time soon but rest assured, they did not get this patent just to spite other companies and prevent them from developing these capabilities.
Of course, this will once again bring up the issue of privacy. What if you don’t want Google knowing what TV shows you are watching? Can you turn off this capability or do you need to watch TV with closed captioning for the rest of your life? I am sure we will be hearing about more developments in the near future. Personally, I feel this is going to lead to huge push from Google for Google TV. Today, consumers can utilize Google TV in one of 2 ways. You can either connect a “buddy box” to your current TV and cable box, or simply purchase a Google Smart TV. Google seemingly has partnered with LG to create these smart TV’s that have internet access, 3D capabilities, voice recognition….the whole 9 yards. One has to believe that if consumers are using Google TV’s, this data will be integrated with your Google account and therefore alter your search results if logged in on other devices. As an advertiser in a digital agency, it makes me wonder if/how this information will be used by Google and will it be shared. As a PPC manager, will I be able to target people based on shows they have watched? Maybe a new beta for the TV ad extension will be released. Can my SEO team members capitalize on viewing history and create content specific to them? So many questions!
Dana Tan – SEO Account Manager Wil Reynolds – SEER CEO & Director of SEO Jessica Kichline – PPC Account Manager What do you think is going to come from this patent? Does Google diving into your TV tendencies worry you or do you like the idea of more personalized search results?