ENGLEWOOD, Colorado: US satellite television provider EchoStar Communications and Google have agreed an advertising sales alliance that will further the web search giant's broadcasting ambitions.

EchoStar is to sell part of its advertising inventory via a Google online auction system, with advertisers bidding the amount they are willing to pay per thousand households that view each commercial.

The satellite-TV firm will then run these slots in the programming it delivers to the 13.1 million households subscribing to its Dish service. The system will begin trials at the beginning of May.

EchoStar evp of commercial and business services Mike Kelly says: "We think it's an opportunity to leverage the viewer information that we can gather from our set-top boxes."

Google will advise advertisers how many set-top boxes were tuned into each commercial, basing the charges on the number of boxes running the ad in question. In addition, it will provide marketers with data on channel-switching during the commercial.

Google's TV advertising director Michael Steib adds: "We know second-to-second whether TV sets stayed tuned into the channel or tuned away."

However, both Kelly and Steib insist the companies will not target ads to set-tops based on an individual subscriber's information: "We're just giving advertising agencies better data," Steib says.

Neither party will reveal the deal's financial details.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff