Google filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office Yesterday (Sept. 16/2014). This patent is already being named “TV Rank” within the SEO industry (news spreads fast). To summarize, the method would take the real-time TV viewing schedule of a specific region and make assumptions about search being performed while programs and commercials are being aired. Search results would be skewed by those assumptions. Google would then deliver online content to local searchers to match queries made within the timeframe that viewing specific television content occurs.
Here is a snapshot of the abstract provided in the patent:
“A computer implemented method for using search queries related to television programs. A server receives a user’s search query from an electronic device. The server then determines, in accordance with the search query and television program related information for television programs available at a location associated with the electronic device during a specific time window, a television program currently being displayed in proximity to the electronic device, wherein the television program related information includes program descriptions for a plurality of television programs being broadcast for the associated location.” (USPTO)
Let’s look at a theoretical example using the popular HGTV program about north pacific island real estate, Hawaii Life. If the show is being aired between 7 and 8 PM in your city, and within that hour you hop online and search for “condos in Waikiki“, Google will be more likely to deliver listings coming from the agency featured in the TV show. Google is assuming that since you reside within the city that the show is being aired in, and that your search occurs directly within the timeframe of the program, you are more than likely searching for specific content because you saw something you were interested in on a program that appeals to you. Google assumes that they are delivering content immediately relevant to your query. There’s a lot of assuming going on, right?
TV shows are one thing, but you can expect the patent to fully realize itself when it comes to commercials. To be fair, it makes a lot of sense in this capacity. Google knows, or certainly will know, when every single television commercial is being aired throughout every minute of the day since it all occurs over a digital framework. If a 30 second commercial for a product runs between 7:05 and 7:05:30 PM (in your town) and at 7:10 you’re on your mobile device using a search query deemed related to that product, it is indeed fair for Google to decide that you must be searching in reference to the commercial. How often have we passed by our living room TV’s only to catch the tail end of a commercial hinting at something we are interested in, with no recourse to learn more other than going online and searching for information based on the tiny bit of information we did retain? Now (assuming the patent is in effect) when you haplessly Google “new commercial about that red car staring that guy from that thing” you may actually get the results you were looking for. There will of course be coincidences of search occurring during TV/commercial schedules that are not related at all. For further relevancy, will Google be able to target users and households based upon their unique viewing habits? Most likely.
As the user base grows for Google Chromecast and subscriptions grow for integrated streaming content services Google will gain more information on the viewing habits of individuals. Then there is Google Now and TV Cards. Google Now’s TV Cards provide users with more information on the TV shows that they are watching and/or are interested in. Using TV Cards in turn also provides Google itself with information on your preferred viewing habits. The implications of Google Now and this new so-called TV Rank patent are as clear as can be. Google surely envisions a day when a significant portion of the population is using Chromecast, Google Now (with TV Cards), and viewing live network programs from their electronic devices while signed into their Google accounts. They will respond (more-so than they already are, that is) by delivering content most relevant to users based upon their unique program viewing habits.
Keep in mind that TV Rank, if/when implemented, will simply be a component within a very big picture of what Google uses to determine how they will deliver content to users on their search engines results page (SERP). Brands need not scramble to dump their marketing dollars into TV ads and program product placement quite yet. So what are the takeaways for your business, if any?
How Your Online Business Can Anticipate the Possible Arrival of TV Rank
Adopt Newsjacking in Your Content Marketing Mix – Stay ahead of TV programming as it relates to major events that will be aired in your locale. This involves the concept of newsjacking for seo and content marketing. The concept basically dictates that your brand incorporates major newsworthy events into your brand messaging, to capitalize on consumer interest at the moment. If the event is being aired on TV in your area, you will want to skew online marketing of your product/service to include elements of the event, when applicable.
Distributors and Affiliates Need to Keep Abreast of Product Commercial Programming – If you are an online dealer, distributor, or affiliate of a major product/service that is known to run commercial programming, keep informed. If you operate a local Ford auto dealership with a strong online presence and you know that Ford is making a big push for a new model with a wave of TV commercials, optimize a landing page on your site for that model. This will help you better capture local search if TV Rank impacts SERP results in your area.
Keep Up-To-date on News Related to TV Rank – Over the year ahead any updates to this anticipated ranking signal will be reported on all major internet marketing news resources, this one included. Bookmark your online resource of choice, and check back frequently for updates on the Google TV Rank patent.
The process of the Google TV Rank patent: