Mobile ad companies have been pushing on mobile phone ads for half a decade, and over the past year, have started to tap into tablets like Apple’s iPad.
But these mobile-focused companies are also starting to get excited about serving another device in the near future, even though it isn’t a mobile gadget at all: The Internet-connected TV in your living room.
As millions of people hook up their video game consoles to the Internet for network gaming and Netflix streaming, add new devices to their living rooms like Apple TV or Roku boxes, and as more TVs themselves ship with Internet access and apps, the potential for advertising on these devices is increasing.
So mobile ad companies are tinkering. Specifically, we’ve heard:
- At least one big mobile ad network is experimenting with ads for Sony PS3s.
- Google TV already includes some tools to support advertising, though ads aren’t running.
- Other firms are looking at ads for Apple TV, Samsung, and other platforms. (You would assume that Apple would be coming out with an iAd for Apple TV at some point.)
Mobile ad companies think they have a leg up here because of their experience with apps on other limited-power, relatively closed-ecosystem devices, like smartphones and tablets. TV app publishers will need advertising SDKs, and these mobile firms have a lot more experience making in-app ad SDKs than anyone else.
And they are obviously very excited about connected TVs because the TV ad market is still absurdly bigger than the mobile ad market.
That said, the companies we’ve spoken with are realistic and patient, and are still mostly focused on the more immediate markets — smartphones and tablets — versus connected TVs.
That’s for two reasons:
1) The connected TV app ecosystem is in an extremely early, immature, fragmented stage. There is the Yahoo Widgets platform and some very early apps for Google TV — not much. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PS3 don’t have open app platforms yet. Apple hasn’t announced an app platform or SDK for the Apple TV yet. This will need to mature before there’s much of a developer community to work with.
2) There isn’t any real ad inventory to sell. And there won’t be for a while. Like mobile advertising, this will start slow.
So, someday, this could be a real market. Expect to see many of the mobile ad companies, including Apple and Google, go after it. And maybe Microsoft. But it’s going to take a while.