Google’s Mark Piesanen, director of strategic partner
development, thinks everyone should be on TV.
Piesanen, a veteran broadcast journalist who work for
both the CBC and MSNBC, was brought to Google in 2007 to build and launch Google TV Ads, an online,
auction-based ad sales system. Like Google AdSense,
which performs a similar service for Web pages, the
system’s goal is to make advertising available to everyone
at efficient pricing.
Part of Google’s goal is to grow the TV advertising
pie: “Half of our advertisers have never been on television
before,” says Piesanen.
All a would-be advertiser needs to do to run a TV
ad—and Google offers advertisers their choice of more
than 100 cable networks, including ESPN, TNT and
CNN—is sign on to an account at Google AdWords,
determine a budget, select a target audience and daypart
and upload an advertisement. Google will even set advertisers
up with assistance via an online marketplace
if they need help creating an ad.
All of this is aimed at democratizing advertising like
“If you are a small advertiser who doesn’t have access
to a media buying agency, you can come into our system
with your credit card, create an account, make creative
and start advertising on television,” says Piesanen,
who has worked with operators such as DirecTV, Dish,
Verizon and Via Media Networks to put the Google TV
Ad network together.
Perhaps even more revolutionary is the data tracking
system that Google has developed using set-top box
“The data that comes off the set-top box looks like
the clickstream data that we see when people click on
ads online,” says Piesanen. “We thought that the ability
to manage large data sets of how people were watching
television ads was something that we could do well. It
seemed like a Google-specific engineering challenge.”
Today, anyone who buys an ad on Google TV not
only gets to see the ad on national television, but also
gets a spate of metrics the next day, detailing exactly
who saw the ad and for how long.
“We tell advertisers with second-by-second precision
not only how many people watched their 30-second ad,
but when people tuned out,” says Piesanen. “When you
have volumes of data like we have, we can do some pretty
fascinating analysis with commercial engagement. It’s a
pretty cool little business we’ve built.”