Savvy brand strategists know that there are two ways to launch a product in a hostile environment: you either build up your own positive marketing image or you subversively trash your competition by pointing out its weaknesses. Alas, since Google TV has launched its admittedly beta-version of the most inspired effort since MSN Web TV , and thereby changed the way we view, use, and consume media now that bandwidth is available ( MSN Web TV failed), Google’s competitors have been engaged in a ‘trashing the competition’ campaign. And very effectively so, I might add.
Since Google TV has been launched, we have witnessed one of the most cleverly vicious, astro-turf grassroots campaigns, leveraging social media, launched by TV networks. The TV networks are justifiably fearful of losing their bread and butter, the big screen, to Google TV, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, and a host of other players that are about to change the viewer experience. The viewer experience has not fundamentally changed since the 1950’s, if you can consider color and HD resolution as variations on the same idea that TV is one-sided. The web and social media are interactive, dialogue-driven, and meant to create user-inspired content. 1. Google TV Must Communicate, and Communicate Often. Google is the Number 1 search engine that now even offers a ‘Real Time’ feature, which enables social media content that is created on the fly to be shown and constantly barrages the media with astro-turf comments from competitive users of Apple and others ‘waiting for it to fail’ via Twitter, Facebook and other means. Meanwhile, if you examine Google TV’s own blog, you will find little to no updates. The likely decision to ‘go dark’ on building excitement among developers and publishing the new applications that are being dreamed of is hurting Google’s reputation because its silence means acceptance. 2. Google TV Should Turn the Gun around and Point it Right Back at the Broadcasters Own Heads. Currently it is reported that Google has a gun to its head by the broadcasters who are blocking FREE content to anyone other-than-Google TV, thus promoting the demise of its platform. But alas, Google can turn the gun and point it right at their own collective tube-heads. Who owns YouTube, where millions of viewers find any worthy content re-casted from broadcast and cable TV? Google. Who owns the largest and most prominent search engine where all news stories are aggregated? Google. So, what would happen if Google told broadcasters: use Apple TV to promote your next viral video about a new fall show, or instead of streaming news, use your own web site, which has 100 views per month… I have an instinctual feeling that it won’t go very far if YouTube suddenly stopped having TV shows during sweeps weeks. 3. Google TV Should Leverage Its Frenemies to Create the Car Strip Mall Effect. Google TV Should Join Forces with Apple, Roku, and Boxee to Create the “Car Strip Mall Affect”. In the quest for market share dominance, one must follow the good ole’ rule that when you are introducing a new product category, you can get more advertising mileage by locating yourself next to other competitors who sell products or services like yours, as consumers will flock because of the centralized brand location. That’s what car dealerships do. They locate themselves next to each other in strip malls, so consumers can walk from one dealership to the next, versus driving around town to six different locations. And they do sell more cars this way. Google TV and Apple TV aren’t enemies- they are frenemies.
The bottom line: Google TV is a winner in the long-term, but not because it is the greatest individual product. It’s because it is a savvy platform that has the capacity, bandwidth and cash flow to enable and launch a media transformation that is cloud-based and powered by continuous upgrades. So Google TV’s success depends less on hardware and more on software as service. So does Apple TV. So do Roku, Boxee, and others. It’s not a question of IF Google TV will succeed but WHEN.
About the Author: Mr. Gal S. Borenstein, author of the book What Really Counts for CEOS, and Founder of The Borenstein Group (www.borensteingroup.com), an integrated marketing communications firm. The Borenstein Group has helped hundreds of startups and mature companies recalibrate their brand promises and rebuild valuations, and is consistently ranked among Advertising Age's Top 500 agencies in the nation and is known for its slogan: "Making Creativity a Science" TM. Mr. Borenstein is frequent commentator on the subjects of technology branding and marketing strategies. For more information or inquiries, email Press@BorensteinGroup.com or call 703-385-8178 x220.