Google Sees Another Chance to Get Programmatic TV Right

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Google is adding the ability to buy TV commercial inventory through its ad technology, representing a kind of rerun for the company that has tried to break into the medium before.

Today Google announced its plans for programmatic TV buying through which advertisers can reach TV audiences as part of their digital video ad buys through its ad tech platform.

It's the first time TV space will be able to be bought through Google's pipes in this way, but it's unclear which networks and what inventory will be available and how many households it will reach.

Google tried to sell television commercials before with Google TV Ads, a product that worked like AdWords, auctioning ad space to be delivered through set-top boxes. Google discontinued that product in 2012 after it failed to take off.

The company is partnering with TV ad tech platforms Wideorbit and Clypd, and Google Fiber, which is Google's fast internet provider. Advertisers will be able to use Google's DoubleClick ad technology to find audiences on the available TV inventory.

"By integrating with TV inventory providers, including local providers, we're able to offer agencies and advertisers the ability to buy their TV ads programmatically, through DoubleClick," Google said in its announcement on Monday. "This means that their TV ads can be bought, targeted and measured in the same platform as their digital video ads and Connected TV ads."

Google said the TV ads were only available in tests so far.

Google has been aggressively going after more traditional television advertising and content. It's also launching YouTube TV, a $35-a-month internet-based television bundle of channels.

It will sell about two minutes of every hour of TV delivered through the service and the rest will come from the participating networks, a typical breakdown for the industry.

Google will face resistance the further it moves into television advertising, as traditional players are concerned by its dominance of its internet business, according to industry watchers.

The programmatic TV industry is growing but still small, and it will account for $4.4 billion, or 6% of all TV spending in 2018, according to eMarketer.

Companies like Adobe (which bought TubeMogul), Simulmedia, Videology and others already have been working on selling TV ads through programmatic means.

Google has been seen mostly as a competitor to television networks, snatching ad dollars through YouTube.

"Google tried this a few years ago with auction pricing and the networks shunned them, so Google shut the project down," said Jim Nail, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Times are a bit different, but it is highly unlikely [Google's DoubleClick] is getting anything other than remnant inventory. Or the best you might say is maybe the networks are putting a small amount of inventory in to dip a toe in the water at this point."

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