A few weeks ago, I talked to a founder of a Net company – who recently sold-out to Google. He said, "The only way I could ever work for Google is by selling a company to them."
Yes, the hiring process at Google is excruciating. But, as a result, they have an incredibly smart workforce.
Last week, for example, two Google employees -- Michele Covell and Shumeet Baluja – presented a paper at an interactive television conference (Euro ITV).
Here's the premise: Software on your laptop can listen to your television programs. The software will learn about your interests and generate personalized content for you. The same can be done with radio.
For example, suppose you are watching "Simon Cowell: The E! True Hollywood Story." Google will listen to the TV show and, in real-time, provide you with a variety of Web sites, news stories, blogs and so on about Simon.
Maybe a little too sci-fi? Perhaps. Then again, for those of the MySpace generation, multitasking is a way of life. So, watching tv, chatting on IM, talking on a cell phone and reading blogs – all at the same time – may be quite normal for them.
I interviewed Dave Morgan, who is a pioneer in online advertising. He founded one of the first online advertising firms, Real Media (which is now part of 24/7 Real Media). His current firm, TACODA, provides solutions to help clients better target online ads.
His take on the Google ideas?
Interesting concept, but I don't think that people will like it. The people that did the CueCat in the late 90's had similar technology. Broadcasters could put beeps in their ads which were picked up by a device on the PC and instructed it to turn to certain advertiser web pages. It never took off.
As much as personalization seems to be the Holy Grail for many in the online ad business, consumers have never really jumped on board. They seem to like content and ads that are filtered, but they don't seem to embrace full one-to-one, and certainly not the level that they would be comfortable having a "bug" in their house, whether or not it is filtering out their private conversations. If Google was nervous about the Justice Department subpoenas for user searches, how when the feds show up looking for the digital tapes of television watching and ambient living room conversations?