Google Street View 'to carry real-time ads'
Google Street View could start carrying adverts which will appear on buildings and billboards, having been granted a new patent.
In the patent, which was granted on January 7 and is entitled: “Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising”, Google outlines its plans to identify posters, billboards and buildings in its online mapping applications and give advertisers the chance to replace these images with more up-to-date adverts.
Google is planning on using software which recognises the posters on a theatre – for instance – and can replace them with a new advert or information. This will allow the theatre to promote its current plays, in spite of a Google Street View image being old.
Google’s technology would allow it to recognise interest points in the image and then serve features around those areas – which could be an updated image of a building or a hot link to connect with the image.
In the patent, the technology company also mentions creating an advertising auction for properties which remain ‘unclaimed’. It said: “The link can be associated with a property owner, for example the property owner which owns the physical property portrayed. The link can alternatively be associated with an advertiser who placed the highest bid on the image recognized within the region of interest (e.g., poster, billboard, banner, etc.).”
Technology blog, ReadWriteWeb, highlighted the issues that could be caused if such an auction was to become a reality: “This does open up some interesting questions. It makes perfect sense for the owner of a local coffee shop to advertise through this system, but in this patent, Google also describes an advertising auction. Does that mean that a rival coffee shop could also bid for ad space on the virtual image of a competitor's store in Street View? Chances are this isn't quite what Google has in mind, though it could definitely be a possibility.”
A Google spokesman said: “We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications."