Do We Have a Bidder? Google TV Ads Wants You1 Dec, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response
Michael Steib says the nearly two-year-old, auction-based TV media service — through partnerships with DISH Network, Bloomberg and NBC Universal — is coming into its own, providing extensive measurement capabilities to direct response and general advertisers alike.
From Consulting to New Media
That Steib would be involved with a new technological breakthrough that would bridge the divide between the Web and television is not a surprise. Though he now oversees sales, inventory acquisition and the marketing operations team for Google TV Ads, he's found ways to revolutionize businesses since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1990s.
"When you graduate with an economics degree from Penn, there are two job options — investment banking or consulting. My wife went into banking. I became a management consultant at McKinsey & Co.," he says with a chuckle.
After spending two years there, he joined Walker Digital LLC, where he was tasked on launching new media businesses. "I founded and led their new media business, where we worked on things like the Virtual Lottery, which allowed states to bring their regular paper lottery games to the Internet," he says.
While there, Steib became a patented inventor on a pair of digital media products. "The company is really an idea incubator with a huge focus on intellectual property," he contends. "One of the things that we were really interested in when I was there was finding ways that would allow business to be conducted differently online. We were intrigued by the Priceline model, in which technology was employed to allow consumers to trade brand preferences and convenience for price reductions."
Steib left Walker Digital for a vice-presidential job at NBCU, where he took on a bit of a new role for him. "One of the great areas of guilt for a consultant is that all of their friends are good at finance and mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A)," Steib says, tongue firmly in cheek. "When I joined NBCU, I took a corporate development job, working on strategy and acquisitions."
While there, he worked for Brandon Burgess (now CEO of Ion Media Networks), and saw his role move more into a broader business development area. "We started an organic growth function inside the company," Steib says. "It became apparent that launching new, organically grown products could complement NBCU's growth through M&A."
This transition led to a new title as general manager of strategic ventures. Steib is most proud of his role as a co-founder and leader of NBC Weather Plus, the first all-digital broadcast television network. "We reached more than 90 percent of the nation's digital broadcast households, and Weather Plus became NBC's de facto weather brand," Steib says. "With NBC's acquisition of The Weather Channel a few months back, it's now part of that business."
Steib and his team followed Weather Plus by launching NBBC — a marketplace for digital video syndication, which is now part of hulu.com. "The NBBC launch had a lot of fanfare," he says. "It was the first time a network had worked aggressively to syndicate video online in an ad-supported way."
How Does It Work?
Steib's expertise in linking television content with the Web and other digital media made the transition to head up Google TV Ads a natural fit. He joined the company in January 2007, right as TV Ads was heading into a small alpha-trial with a Walnut Creek, Calif.- based cable operator. "The test went well, and we launched with DISH in May 2007," Steib says. For 11 months, the service was available to advertisers by invitation only, but Google TV Ads made its platform open and available to all advertisers in April.
Steib contends that the concepts behind the creation of Google TV Ads were rooted in a belief that the company's technology capabilities could extend to television, and that television advertising's move toward a more DR-esque methodology lended itself to increased measurement. "Google has a heritage of employing technology to make ads more relevant for consumers, and more profitable for advertisers," Steib says. "We believed TV advertising could be improved by bringing Internet technology and its accountability to TV."