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Google closes TV Ads program

Here’s an unexpected side effect of an increasing audience shift towards digital video in recent years: Sensing a change in the importance of television in the video space, Google is pulling back on its five-year-old Google TV Ads program, essentially bringing it to an end in order to focus on digital in the future.

In a blog post published yesterday, Google’s Shishir Mehrotra wrote that Google AdWords’ overall goal continues to be “to provide all our customers with the best digital marketing opportunities,” and that the Google TV Ads program launched in 2007 allowed a number of the company’s clients to buy “traditional TV advertising for the first time.”

Amongst the early partners with Google for the program were Hallmark Channel and the various cable channels owned by NBC Universal, both of whom were reportedly attracted to the deal by the possibility of Google’s client base managing to increase the number of local advertisers who would be available to the channels. However, it’s fair to say that the partnerships weren’t as effective as any party hoped, with NBC Universal actually ending its deal a year early in 2010.

In the official announcement of the closure of the service, Mehrotra explained that the company has noticed that “video is increasingly going digital and users are now watching across numerous devices,” meaning that the company has been forced to make “the hard decision to close our TV Ads product over the next few months and move the team to other areas at Google.” It may not be a complete shutdown, however; Mehrotra goes on to say that “of course we’ll continue to support our partners, and our clients’ campaigns, as we shut the project down,” which feels like a somewhat confusing statement – Surely, if the project is being shut down, the support will only be continued for a limited period…?

As for what the company will be doing to replace the TV component of AdWords, Mehrotra said that it would be more of what it’s currently up to. “We’ll be doubling down on video solutions for our clients (like YouTube, AdWords for Video, and ad serving tools for web video publishers),” he wrote, adding that the AdWords team “also see[s] opportunities to help users access web content on their TV screens, through products like Google TV.” So, not a complete dismissal of the possibilities offered by television, then, just a refocusing of what those possibilities may be, and where they lie.

“The future of video advertising is extremely bright and we’re excited to devote ourselves fully to it,” the blog entry ends. It remains to be seen whether or not the future of web-enabled televisions will be bright enough to replace the potential income loss from the closure of this project, of course.