Google Partners with NBC Universal on TV Ads

In the biggest victory yet for Google’s nascent TV ad delivery efforts, the company has struck a multi-year deal with NBC Universal to represent inventory on a number of NBC cable stations.

In addition to selling ads on Sci Fi, Oxygen, MSNBC, CNBC and other networks, Google will work with NBCU to develop new ad metrics and conduct research based on viewership data supplied by set top boxes. That data comes courtesy of Google’s existing relationship with EchoStar’s DISH network.

Mike Pilot, president of NBC Universal sales, said in a statement that the arrangement will help the company “develop better accountability and ROI metrics” for its advertisers, and “attract an entirely new group of clients to television advertising.” Those new clients will likely consist of small to mid-sized advertisers not used to buying TV time.

Importantly, the companies said they will jointly adapt the Google TV Ads platform to support locally targeted campaigns. A limitation of the platform to date has been the absence of geo-targeting.

While Google TV Ads has been around in trial mode since spring 2007, it took until May for the company to launch it officially. Even then, distribution was limited to inventory made available through cable partners DISH and Astound. The partnership with NBCU may mark the arrival of Google as a legitimate TV ad seller in the eyes of many media planners.

Whether that turns out to be the case will depend on just how much inventory NBC Universal chooses to make available to Google. The companies were hazy on such details, saying only that NBCU “can set parameters around the purchase of available ad time” and that the deal may expand onto more of its cable nets in the future.

In addition to ad placement services, Google TV Ads offers production referrals for smaller advertisers lacking TV-ready video assets.

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