After being chained to DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH ) exclusively for two years, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) has found another partner for its TV advertising platform. DISH's archrival DIRECTV Group (Nasdaq: DTV ) just signed on, giving Google TV Ads a clean sweep of the satellite broadcasting channels.
The Google TV Ads system is a cousin of Big G's market-leading online advertising platform, AdSense. It's an auction system that allows advertisers to bid on airtime targeted to specific demographics, with the ad selection handled by your digital satellite box. Better targeting should lead to stronger conversion rates. If that theory plays out the way Google expects, the company could become a powerhouse in the multibillion-dollar market for TV ad management.
With these two large operators in the fold, Google can now reach as many as 30 million viewers on any given night. None of the big cable guys have signed up yet, but you can bet that they're keeping a close eye on how DIRECTV and DISH are doing. I wouldn't be surprised to see Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC ) throw their gigantic hats in the ring in the next year or two. (Note: I'm not implying that they have big heads. At all.)
If nothing else, the Android-based Google TV platform might also tap into the ad service when it launches this fall. Little is known about that offering to date, and it could be tricky from both technical and legal standpoints to replace the ads being served by your regular cable box with ones dished out by Google's add-on, but never say never.
In due time, the TV ad platform could give Google a second financial leg to stand on, giving analysts far less reason to harp on the company's reliance on online ads. I'd give it two years, maybe three, before we see a significant impact on the top and bottom lines.
Are you ready for Google to reach into your living room? Discuss the potentially Orwellian implications in the comments below.