After months of speculation, Google has officially jumped into the television business. The Web giant announced on Monday that it is partnering with EchoStar Communications to sell commercials over the Dish satellite broadcaster's 125 national programming networks, an early indicator of how the Internet giant plans to use its $10.6 billion online-ad business to conquer television. Under the EchoStar deal, advertisers will use Google's AdWords automated auction interface to bid on ad spots. Advertisers can upload their TV commercials and select the desired time of day and channel, as well as choose regional or national area coverage. They can also target the ad based on a show's demographics, such as males 18 to 34 years old, said Keval Desai, director of product management for Google TV Ads.
In a related move, Google also confirmed that it has been testing a similar advertising effort with Astound Broadband, a small cable TV operator east of San Francisco that serves about 23,000 subscribers. Astound has been testing TV ad sales with Google since the fall, the companies said. Cable set-top boxes track which programs a household watches so that targeting systems eventually could match the kinds of shows the household prefers with ads for products and services that would suit their interests, Astound President Craig Heiting said. The Astound project is admittedly small, but it may indicate that Google is intent on doing more than the deal with EchoStar's Dish (short for Digital Sky Highway).