New Ad Platforms: Your Fridge, Dash, and Thermostat

In December, Google sent a letter to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) that made it very clear that the company sees a future, only “a few years from now,” in which “[it] and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches.” Google generates most of its revenue by, as the company puts it, “delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising.” All this means is that Google makes money by collecting user information and delivering pertinent ads based on that information, thereby increasing the likelihood that the user will buy what is being advertised. Consumers see Google at work on their laptops, tablets, smartphones, and any other device with an Internet connection. Screen_shot_2012-01-29_at_8.08.41_PM   But the smart device category is evolving. Recently, Google acquired Nest, a company that essentially reinvented the thermostat and smoke alarm. Both of these devices can be controlled from the user’s phone. It would be easy enough to connect these devices to the Internet and for Google to begin delivering ads to the device. The founder of Nest did make a statement concerning this possibility:

“Nest is being run independently from the rest of Google, with a separate management team, brand and culture,” Fadell said. “For example, Nest has a paid-for business model, while Google has generally had an ads-supported business model. We have nothing against ads — after all Nest does lots of advertising. We just don’t think ads are right for the Nest user experience.”

Nest’s opinion could change over time, or the company may have the integrity to stick to its statement. Users must keep in mind the ever-evolving nature of technology and the business surrounding it. As Google points out in its letter to the SEC, the label “mobile” is constantly changing. The success of the tablet changed how Google defined “mobile.” Google expected the tablet to become similar to the smart phone in that it would be a “handset” device. Over time, the company saw the tablet become more similar to a desktop device similar to a laptop. The usage of the tablet has shown how changeable the term “mobile” is.  With this in mind, Google stated, “Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic.”

Elena Lusk
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