Summary:

The web is rapidly merging with television, and the economic, technological, and legal barriers that have kept consumers’ internet experienc…

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The web is rapidly merging with television, and the economic, technological, and legal barriers that have kept consumers’ internet experiences separate from their television-watching are under enormous pressure. The first panel at paidContent’s Battle for the Digital Home conference explored what the coming mix of television and internet content will look like, how it will be paid for, and what points of resistance remain. Some highlights below:

Democratized Content: There’s a lot of opportunity for a service like YouTube, with its roots in user-generated content, to serve additional types of longer-form video, said Mario Queiroz of Google (NSDQ: GOOG). “A consumer on YouTube wants to consume video–so there might be a recommendation for something that is longer-form, a film or something beyond the ‘cats on skateboards…Google TV was designed to be television and web, not television versus web.” Said Ronald Jacoby of Yahoo’s Connected TV project: “We’re working with all the major media companies in the world–but we also have high schools from Illinois, we have churches in Peru… we have applications written by everyone.”

Better Targeted Advertising: Online advertisers know more about who is viewing and interacting with their ads than ever before, but a true integration of the web-browsing experience and television-watching experience needs to make ads even more targeted, said Robert Wiesenthal of Sony (NYSE: SNE). “I don’t have a need for pickup trucks, but whenever I watch I see pickup trucks advertised three times a day. In a true IPTV [internet protocol television] environment… the ad’s going to be more compelling to the consumer. Hopefully there will be a lot less ad-skipping. It will be more a part of the entertainment experience than it is [now.]

Privacy: Targeted advertising is great, but if it goes too far it can get scary for consumers. Collecting information about users’ browsing history and what mobile applications they’re using, for example, enables not just better advertising but better results for companies like Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Google that also provide search services. The key, said Queiroz, is to make sure that you get the user’s permission at each step. “Privacy is our biggest concern with regard to anything related to targeting or user behavior.” Limited data retention also protects users. “In most situations, we’re not keeping that information around.”

Cord Cutting: Moderator Quincy Smith of Cole Advisors put it directly–with many younger viewers having grown accustomed to a world of video content that doesn’t entail a cable bill, what does that mean for “cord cutting” going forward? Bruce Eisen of Dish Network (NSDQ: DISH) said that he doesn’t really see cord-cutting as a problem. “I don’t think that right now there is significant cord-cutting.” It isn’t easy, and “you’ll probably end up spending more money on television if you’re the typical user… The paid television model will be around for awhile.” But it’s incumbent on cable companies “to make the content available when the user wants, and where the user wants.”

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