Ad It Up: Google in California Cable TV Trial

Google is quietly testing targeted television ads in Concord, Calif., according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The test is being conducted with subscribers of cable provider Astound Broadband, a unit of WaveDivision Holdings LLC. Astound serves the affluent areas of Concord and Walnut Creek, both of which are near Google's Mountain View headquarters. WaveDivision Holdings claims to serve about 140,000 customers in Washington and California.

Some of the commercial spots on Astound's channels have been sold to advertisers by Google and delivered to the cable company. The advertisers are buying the spots through a manual auction system -- not an automated auction system like Google uses for AdWords -- and the commercials aren't targeted at specific households yet.

Google has broached the subject of ad serving with Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider with more than 23 million subscribers, during talks about re-upping their current partnership. Google currently serves as Comcast's search engine on a deal that is set to expire at the end of 2007.

The television ad market is worth about $54 billion, much larger than the online ad market -- about $20 billion in 2007, according to eMarketer -- that Google dominates.

Google is currently also seeking a director of ad sales for its fledgling TV initiatives.