An article in today’s New York Times describes what could be a “new convergence” of media- internet and television. The article was a bit dense and industry-focused, and I’m not sure if I understand it completely myself, but I’ll do my best to sum it up for you here. (Here’s the link, click it while it’s still free.)
Premise: Google acquires dMarc broadcasting for $1.24 billion.
DMarc uses software to help place ads on radio, and it could conceivably do the same for Google’s armada of Web ads. The deal, along with other experiments by Google to reproduce its advertisers’ notices in newspapers and other print outlets, suggests that Convergence 2.0 is moving in interesting and previously undeveloped directions.
So for starters, the article isn’t really about convergence so much as placing advertisements. Yet, we go on to discover that by using customer’s bills/mailing addresses along with IP addresses, online content providers may start doing something interesting soon: they may begin to provide regional programming online, i.e. content that is specific to a global region that can only be accessed from a computer within that region.
What good is this? Ads, of course! Now the local pizza place can put an ad up on cable TV as easily as putting an ad on Google, or the yellow pages. A point of confusion here: do they mean as long as the viewers are going online for their cable TV? Does this assume readily available internet-based broadcasting?
Possibly it refers to online TV purchases such as the kind available on iTunes and other stores? One affiliate makes a bold claim, that he wishes to sell episodes of CBS shows on the affiliate website. Miss an episode of CSI? Go to WRAL.com and pick it up for $1.99 while you check up on local news.
“The next thing that we’re all buzzing about is this concept of selling programming to people over the Internet,” said Mr. Goodmon, whose flagship station, WRAL, is the CBS affiliate in Raleigh. “If CBS wants to sell ‘CSI,’ we would like to be able to sell it for them - in partnership with them - on our Web site. I think we’re in the best position to sell and promote that material on behalf of the network.”
The advertising on such shows would be extremely cheap, according to the article, only a few dollars per spot, or $300-500 for an entire campaign.
This strikes me as a bit odd for a few reasons. First, when you download a show from iTunes, it is typically commercial-free. This isn’t to say that commercials can’t be added, but I think one of the selling points of these online shows is their ad-free nature. By adding in local commercials, boradcasters may be killing the goose that lays the golden egg. And it seems likely to me that online ads will be unceremoniously skipped- especially if it’s in Quicktime, or a format that easily facilitates fast forward and rewind. You don’t even need TiVo. A Realplayer or Windows Media format may be better for something like this, but personally I wouldn’t want to watch a TV show in Wind–buffering 50%–buffering 78%–ows Media.
I’ve got low expectations for all of this. Anybody can feel free to chime in here and let me know if I’ve missed something, but judging from the article, I don’t think I have.