YouTube TV Launches

A new live online TV service? Yes, in theory, this is nothing new. We’ve seen this over the past few years with Sling TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue and more. However, the live service now being offered by YouTube – a subsidiary of Google – could put the final nail in the coffin for big cable companies and a lot of broadcast TV advertising.

Why is YouTube TV going to change the game for advertisers and viewers? To start, let’s take a look at the current options, all priced in the $30 per month range:

  • Sling TV – 1 million subscribers. This Dish Network-owned service launched in February 2015, making it the longest-running of these platforms.
  • DirecTV Now – 200,000+ subscribers. This is still a new service, having rolled out in early 2017.
  • PlayStation Vue – 400,000 subscribers. Sony launched this platform in March 2015.

Although these are all owned by larger companies, they don’t have access to the wealth of data, information and consumer influence that Google does. Through its Chrome browser, Chromecast, Android phones, search engine and more, Google has developed a strong understanding of its user base. As we already see with the company’s robust targeting abilities through digital advertising, all live-television advertising will become tailored to the user.

For example, television ads will no longer be random – they will become based upon what a user has researched, purchased or viewed. This will include broad demographic targeting, targeting market segments based upon third-party data, keyword targeting based upon what someone recently searched for or an article they read, and more.

Digital retargeting will be an option across broadcast television. If I looked at a product online, a television ad for that product could be served to me during a live basketball game.

This is a benefit to consumers because they will see more relevant advertising. If viewers have to sit through commercials, we can guarantee they would prefer these commercials be highly relevant and tailored to them, rather than another random spot. In addition, television advertising will become less passive and more interactive. If there’s interest in an ad, a user can click the ad to learn more. If someone is watching television on a tablet, the service could serve a targeted ad asking the viewer to play a quick game before continuing on, instead of just watching a commercial.

This is a benefit to advertisers because real-time data will be active on live television. In its current archaic state, television is measured by Nielsen rating diaries. This data is generated by a select group of people in each market physically writing down what they are watching on television, then sending that data to Nielsen to average with others who share a similar demographic – not the most precise or timely approach.

With YouTube TV, advertisers will be able to see all viewing data in real time and know the exact number of viewers, not an average. Television advertising will finally be able to track which ads create a purchase or a conversion – and do so in real time.

This is a benefit to everyone because in its current state, television advertising is expensive, not easily accessible to small businesses, and is purchased using aging software that looks like it hasn’t changed since “The Oregon Trail” was a popular video game. As YouTube’s live TV service becomes popular, smaller advertisers will be able to bid against one another for specific demographic segments in unique locations, significantly lowering the cost of current television advertising.

Since we don’t yet know all of the details, this is obviously all theory. But if Google is investing in television, we can assume that it’s likely to change the industry … unless it’s another Google Plus.