Google Eyes

I just read that CBS has hired away a Google executive as its new CMO for the interactive division. The article, which appeared in Online Media Daily even went so far as to point to this as "another sign that CBS is serious about becoming a digital media powerhouse".

Oh really?

It seems to me like a bad case of -- let's call it -- Google eyes on the part of traditional media.

Google, the well-run interactive media giant, has taken on everyone and won -- so far at least. And where they came up short, say in social networking, they did what the old media barons used to do -- buy their way into the game. Thus, the acquisition of YouTube.

But Google eyes is something that Viacom and CBS has and it looks terminal. This is not to say that they are alone. The radio industry has been mulling over whether to turn some of its inventory over to Google to sell online. One day radio likes the idea. The next day they're concerned about the repercussions. Radio has had more in-and-outs on the prospect of getting into bed with Google AdSense than Britney Spears has had interventions.

It's almost as if radio doesn't want to miss the Google wave and is willing to become a common commodity. Click. Bid. Buy. Even let Google help these faceless new advertisers produce their commercials. Talk about "no relationship selling".

What I'm getting at here is that traditional media wants to make (further) fools out of themselves with their Google eyes. You noticed I chose their eyes to make this comparison instead of another organ, but that organ, too, qualifies for what they've got a bad case of -- pure and simple envy.

TV networks can't see straight. They want to be Google. Want to control the delivery system for their programming. Meanwhile, a lot of their programming stinks. And some networks notably NBC even cut back on expenses for prime time programming. It should be the other way around. If networks are anything they are content providers or should be. But I guess if you look at history you'll see that even in their heyday the television networks paid compensation to stations to get them to carry their programming. They had their reasons. Many of them weren't good reasons. The networks wised up lately, but back then television stations needed the TV networks more than the networks needed them. And to make matters worse this was before cable. So, it's not surprising that the people who brought you compensation for local affiliates when they didn't have to are now behind the move to take control of the world's growing pipeline of YouTube clones.

They don't have to.

The thought of a TV network as first and foremost a delivery system is as frightening as a mobile phone company being a content producer. But in our interactive day and age, smart people are making not so smart decisions.

The real problem is a lack of understanding of the very generation that has foisted all this change on the media barons -- Gen Y? How can media barons make business decisions with implications so dire that they forgot to consult with the next generation? To get to know them a bit better is an eye-opener. It's more than they are demanding, impatient and fickle. It turns out that they are proving to be wiser than the media barons in many ways.

Gen Y is bringing the record industry to its knees -- latest example is the coming demise of digital rights management (DRM).

Gen Y all but banished terrestrial radio to being irrelevant for neglecting them and focusing on consolidation instead. They've got nothing against satellite radio -- they just can't afford it. And if they could, they're waiting for WiFi to make everything that's free on the Internet portable in their lives.

Newspapers -- forget it. No young person is going to hold in their hands what they can click with their fingers and read.

Now, television is in the sights of the next generation and these TV big wigs are falling into the hands of this interactive generation that so few media people understand. TV is panicked over online video and combine that with social networking and you've got them digging deep into their pockets to buy into the game.

Traditional media can't see its future or even its potential until it stops looking at the next generation through Google eyes.