Could startscreen ads pave the way for a free Chromecast

first_imgThe $39 Chromecast is an awesome little media device, and it’s been selling like hotcakes. You know what would make it even more popular? If Google gave them away for free. Why would Google do that? For the same reason it does lots of things: at the end of the day, it’s an advertising company.There’s an opportunity to monetize Chromecast, and there’s also proof that Google is at least thinking about doing it. When the device isn’t streaming anything, it waits patiently at the “ready to cast” screen. That screen turns out to be nothing more than a web page, and it’s even got JavaScript code in it that’s designed to handle ad displays.Google could easily use that code to do exactly what Chrome Story mocked up: a banner that runs across the bottom of the screen for the hot, new Nexus 7 while you wait for a Netflix stream to load. There’s no reason Google couldn’t take things a step further, either.It would be easy enough to show a pre-roll advertisement on the screen before a requested video starts playing. They’ve become the norm on YouTube over the past couple of years, and Chromecast pre-rolls would be even more valuable to Google — because they wouldn’t be as easy for the average Joe to skip.The Chromecast is a fairly dumb device after all. All it really does is fetch URLs fed to it from other devices on your network. It’s not built for interaction. It’s built for viewing, and captive audiences make for juicy ad targets. Turning the Chromecast into an ad-serving machine would be a win for both Google and its advertising partners.It’s also hard to imagine an ad-supported Chromecast being a flop.Having to sit through the odd advertisement before watching The IT Crowd again wouldn’t bother me in the least, and I doubt it would bother most consumers. That’s how Sony makes Crackle free here in Canada, and it seems like a fair trade for getting to watch on-demand content on a free device. Especially when Microsoft is charging Xbox Live users five bucks a month for the same privilege.last_img

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