More Images from CONNECTIONS(tm) Europe
Kurt Scherf (at the podium) & John Barrett (at the far end of the table) moderate the penultimate session "Funding Innovation — The State of Venture Capital for Europe."
In a move that could impact future BPL deployments around the U.S., AT&T has filed a temporary restraining order against Current Communications Group Inc., TXU’s partner in deploying BPL in North Texas. The order claims that the equipment Current is installing on some utility poles, owned by AT&T, pose a safety risk AT&T employees. One has to wonder if this is truly a safety issue or an attempt to hinder TXU and Currents strategy to provide BPL services to homes across North Texas.
Although it seems this issue will not delay TXU and Current’s goal of providing broadband service by the end of the year, if successful, it could provide a strategy for other Telcos to delay BPL deployments around the country. An agreement between Current and AT&T is pending regarding this issue.
As expected, the FCC ruled Friday that Broadband over Power Line (BPL) be classified as an “information service”. With this ruling, BPL now is on an equal playing field with DSL and cable modem service. While deployment of BPL remains sparse in the United States, this ruling could spark a renewed interest and increased investment in the technology.
Touted as a possible avenue to provide high speed services to rural areas, it remains uncertain if BPL can be a cost effective option. However, the use of BPL technology could provide solutions in two viable areas. A more immediate use of BPL could be in the field of monitoring. Sometimes referred to as “smart grid” technology, BPL’s duplex communication capabilities would allow utility companies to monitor and better manage demand and quickly troubleshoot issues. Secondly, BPL gives companies, such as Google and EarthLink, a network to leverage and differentiate themselves from their DSL and Cable competitors. Google and EarthLink have already made investments in companies that provide BPL products and services.
Google today announced the alpha test of its Print Ads program that allows advertisers to bid against each other to place their ads on newspapers and magazines. More than 50 major newspapers are currently on the trial.
This is another splash Google made in bolstering its role as an innovator in the advertising space. The impact is both near-term and long-term: first, the Print Ads program is essentially a B2B transaction platform that connects the buyers and sellers of the ad space on printed media and eliminates the middlemen played traditionally by media buying agencies. Presumably, Google will generate some broker fees from facilitating these transactions, although it admits the initial cash outlay will be more than the cash generated.
But Google stands to benefit not just from an “eBay-like” service. The more long-term benefits are from advertisers’ trust of and reliance on Google as ad optimization engine, whether it’s search, display or offline traditional media ads. By entering this traditional media space, Google reveals its ambition to provide a holistic solution to advertisers and tries to alleviate advertisers’ long-time agony of unable to optimize ad buying across multiple media formats. This weakness is correctly spotted by Google, and this Print Ads program and Google’s purchase of DMarc earlier this year are clear steps toward that goal. Google sweetens the deal by providing access to its measurement metrics database. Even though the value-added here appears to only provide print ads’ impact on online traffic patterns, this offline and online “linkage” is the tip of an iceberg of how advertisers can understand their ad placement’s impact on their top-line. If you continue to probe and speculate Google’s future moves (if I may), the outcome could be more than just cage-rattling, but groundbreaking. Imagine, Google can invent better algorithms to measure TV ad viewing than Nielson does, and imagine it can get its hands on scanner data that capture consumers buying habits, then all of a sudden, Google’s tentacles will reach all corners of the advertising space. With its powerful computing power and impressive collective brain cells, Google might be able to tell advertisers that maximization of sales or customer retention can be achieved by placing x% of ad dollars on search marketing, x% on radio ads in certain markets, x% in TV ads, and so on. It is the Holy Grail advertisers are searching for and once they have it from Google, Google will be the single most influential force in maneuvering ad spending.
Of course, such a solution is not come by easily and Google might fail in the process. But the company is constantly experimenting and righting itself back on track. During Google’s searching process, the increasingly endangered species are media buyers. Commenting on this Google news, Peter Gardiner, chief media officer for