Psst! Wanna Run a Commercial? Google Sells TV Ads Wholesale

Last Updated Mar 19, 2010 3:08 PM EDT

Google (GOOG) had its ups and downs when it brokered radio and newspaper advertising. In a way, you could see why, as it focused on waning media. However, it may have found a successful formula in Google TV Ads. Small businesses and would-be kings and queens of infomercials can get their video advertisements on cable television networks. And if you're one of the next 3,000,000 to respond, you can get it cheap, cheap, CHEAP!

Slate heard of this mechanism and decided to take a spin:
The results are impressive. You could get a television spot for as little as $100. Slate created its own commercial, largely cut from archival footage, and paid about $1,300. On late night television, that bought an audience of 1.3 million spread across 54 appearances â€" multiple times on overnight reruns of the Glenn Beck show -- over four different cable networks. Of the 1.3 million, over a thousand went to the specially created web site mentioned at the end of the commercial, for a response of about 0.08 percent. That may seem anemic, but remember that was the number of people watching a less than compelling ad and then going to a web site and it was for overnight viewing (which probably includes a large number of people who have fallen asleep in front of the TV).

Forget the odd Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton looking to put their kitchen gadget on a television ad as in the old Honeymooners episode and think of small and medium-sized businesses that want to reach out. Given the current relatively low expense to create passable video, Google may have opened the national TV ad market to many companies that would never have considered it before. And how long will it be before larger companies decide to purchase remnant ad space through Google and cut out all the middlemen? I can already hear the moaning in ad agency boardrooms. And advertisers saying, "Google -- you're the greatest."

TV Image: Flickr user tomislavmedak, CC 2.0. Honeymooners, courtesy CBS.
  • Erik Sherman On Twitter»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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