I confess to a new habit. When I'm on the couch, in front of my widescreen with an ice cold diet root beer within arm's reach, I now have another must: A laptop computer.
I keep my Mac (boots faster) laptop on the coffee table next to me, ready to help bring me a better entertainment experience. For example, my wife and I have been watching the NBA finals. I'll admit, she's not really into basketball, so her mind wanders.
"Just how young is Boston Celtic Rajon Rondo," she asked me during Sunday night's game, "and where is he from."
Almost without taking my eyes off the game, I answered, courtesy of Wikipedia: "Rajon Pierre Rondo is 24 and was born in Louisville."
That's how it goes now. We watch the game and indulge our love for trivia and any other information that enhances our viewing pleasure. Doc Rivers is a year younger than I am.
Little Nate Robinson wears size 11 Nikes. Chris Rock was born in South Carolina but grew up in Brooklyn. Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn but grew up in New Hampshire. I finally even understand the NBA instant replay rule, courtesy of NBA.com.
Google, the search engine expert, has obviously been clocking my every keystroke and recently announced its newest service, Google TV,, which might just thrust TV a quantum leap forward and create a new revenue stream for advertising agencies. (If Google can figure out how to keep squirrels from digging holes in my lawn, it will have solved all of my problems.)
Here is how it works: This fall, using a set-top box from Logitech and a remote you can purchase from Best Buy, or by purchasing a Google TV ready TV or a Blu-Ray DVD player from Sony, you will be able to seamlessly integrate as well as enhance your TV experience. You'll be able to search for TV programs on the Internet, and watch on a larger screen and in high definition, surf the Internet through your TV and play Internet games enhanced by the larger, high-definition TV experience.
Google believes this will change the way you think about the Internet search and TV forever, and provide a boon to advertisers who can combine search and banner advertising with traditional TV commercials and opt-in longer form advertising.
Detractors, such as Apple Computer, say Google TV will just add to the clutter around the TV with an additional remote and a set-top box people will have to purchase. Many believe Steve Jobs is being critical only to establish his foray into the TV business, just as he was before he jumped into the cell phone market or recorded video with the video iPod.
What's at stake? The more than $74 billion TV ad market has an inherent targeting problem. You get a lot of viewers with television but invariably you are paying for customers you don't want or need. Young golfers who watch the PGA on TV are bombarded with ads for the ED drug Cialis.
By using search engine practices, Google believes it can arrive at "mass personalization" and do a much better job of targeting ads to the kinds of consumers advertisers are actually trying to reach. This greater efficiency could result in better targeted and measurable TV ads, in short, a holy grail for marketers.