I've long wondered how Google plans to make money off non-internet advertising. After all, how do you determine that a TV commercial, for example, is relevant to the people watching a particular program?
It turns out that Google is trying to measure such relevancy. In a blog post, Dan Sigmond, Technical Lead for Google TV Ads, explains that Google has a relationship with Echostar to track when people switch channels on their set-top boxes.
They found that "between 5-15% of viewers tune away from a channel as soon as a commercial break begins." They can even track tune-outs for a particular ad over time, every time it airs. Writes Dan:
So when viewers tune away from an ad, they are voting with their remote
controls. These "votes" can be useful information, because they might
tell us when viewers aren't finding certain ads interesting or
relevant, and they bring us closer to understanding when TV ads are
relevant to viewers.
Of course, they can't measure when viewers go to the kitchen to get a snack. But maybe there's a multiplier -- if a certain number of people change channel, x times that amount are ignoring the commercial altogether.
If Google can demonstrate to advertisers that fewer viewers tune out some ads over others, maybe advertisers can increase relevancy to particular demographics watching a particular program. Or at least demonstrate which ads are really boring.
So why hasn't anybody done this before? Maybe because broadcasters don't want advertisers to know how many people tune them out.
I'd still like to see how they determine which ads are relevant to newspaper readers, though...