What you watch on TV may now play in as a factor that influences your search results from a given query. Just a couple days ago, on September 16th, Google was granted the patent to use what you watch on TV as another one of their ranking signals (although they have not officially said it will be used for sure just yet). They filed for this patent a few years ago, on June 30th of 2011, and now it has come to life. The patent itself has been given the lengthy name of System and method for enhancing user search results by determining a television program currently being displayed in proximity to an electronic device.
Google uses hundreds of signals that determine the rankings of search results, but this particular one is pretty darn interesting. Before I delve into this and offer thoughts on this new patent of Google, here is the abstract from the patent itself.
“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.”
So essentially what you are watching on TV could be observed by Google and that could influence your search results. Will this be through an internet-enabled device used to watch TV or will it be through a set up box or satellite? That question remains to be unanswered at the moment. As for Google owned entities that stream Television programs, such as Chromecast and YouTube, it is pretty obvious that Google will have access to all of this information since they own it. It will be interesting to see how much information and data Google will be able to acquire from the other TV sources. As we already know, Google Now can listen to the TV program you are watching and identify it along with a list of details (similar to the music services provided by companies like Shazam).
For example, let’s say you perform a Google search for the show Pawn Stars to look up an item you recently saw on the show. Well, if an episode of Pawn Stars is airing in your area soon, then your search results may be influenced upon this and Google may let you know that episode is going to be on. On another note, let’s say you just saw a new commercial that had a really cool song playing in the background and you wanted to know who sings the song. Google may use the data and information about what is airing in your local area to personalize your results and give you a super relevant answer.
Here is an exact example from the patent to help further explain. “When the user executes a query for ‘Porsche’ during the same time window a TV program is airing that includes a segment about a particular Porsche model, the search engine returns enhanced search results based on the presumption that the user in question was watching that particular TV program–or that the user in question would be interested in watching that particular TV program. For example, given that the Porsche model in question is a ‘911 Turbo,’ and that the user executed a search query for ‘Porsche,’ the server can return information about one or more of :
1) The ‘911 Turbo’ model (e.g., a link to information on the Porsche.com website about the ‘911 Turbo’),
2) Information about the TV program that is currently airing with that segment, and
3) Suggestions of similar programming that is currently airing or airing in the future and that is available to the user.
In this way, implementations provide enhanced search results to viewers of live TV that are relevant to the content of TV programs that they are watching or are likely to be interested in watching.”
Sounds pretty interesting right? Here is a visual provided from the patent to help break it down.
This is quite a bit of information to soak in. So how should online marketers prepare for this ranking signal to kick in? How soon until a new tool is developed to help perform research on TV watching habits? Also, how are we going to track it on the analytics side of things? I am personally performing keyword research constantly here at Ignite, will my methods have to change due to this new patent? It will definitely be exciting to see how our TV watching habits influence our personal search results. Looking forward to testing this out and seeing if it actually works. Let us know your thoughts below. I am sure many people will have quite a few things to say about this new patent.
“TV Rank: Google Gets Patent On Using What You’re Watching To Influence Search Results” by Barry Schwartz
“Google Granted Patent on Using What You Watch on TV as a Ranking Signal” by Bill Slawski
“Google TV Rank Patent – Search Results Soon Determined by Consumer TV Viewing Habits?” by Marcus Maraih
United States Patent and Trademark Office