Google And Microsoft To Replace Billboards On Street View With Own Adverts

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Google and Microsoft To Replace Billboards On Street View With Own Advertising

Not the newest of news here but very interesting with the augmented reality lovers among us and for those that missed this article the first time round.

Google has filed for a patent to attempt to replace street view billboard adverts captured with their own technology with its own advertising brought in from adsense presumably.

Interestingly Microsoft seem to have also applied for a similar patent on VIEWING MEDIA IN THE CONTEXT OF STREET-LEVEL IMAGES please note if this link changes it is due to the US patent web masters love of altering URL’s over time!

Here is the key part of the Google patent application:

Exemplary item types that may be embedded in the joint embedding space (advert essentially) include images, annotations, audio and video. In an embodiment, the method can further include embedding the first item at a first location determined by applying the learned mapping for a first item type of the plurality of item types, and annotating the first item based upon the one or more associated embedded training items.

Perfect for smartphone users:

This leads me to believe that what Google could offer is a much more interesting option than perhaps was previously thought about in the original article where simple images might be replaced by another image with a new advert…boring!

Lets be more creative here…what would it be like if the theatres in New York each had clickable links to display a video preview and then offer you tickets to the show, a taxi on the way or a map to walk you there and then suggest a meal after the show with a voucher code….wow this could be seriously powerful stuff.

How would it work?

Well basically if you were looking at a street view of Time Square using Google maps, you would be offered a new version of the advertising that appeared on billboard screens when captured, this would be based on a patented algorithm that would identify the opportunity to input a Google ad and then essentially superimpose this with one of their partners adverts.

But what would happen if you owned that building, surely you could put your own adverts up or charge someone for the privilege to put a new virtual one on the side?

Interestingly a few things crop up with questions un-answered:

Firstly, in the patent application it is clearly stated that the link (advert) can be associated with a property owner, this is meant by the actual physical property and not the billboard advert. The link that will for instance replace a billboard advert would in theory be put up for auction as most advertising is done via adsense and at any given moment the person with the largest budget would be given the privilege of using this “virtual real estate”

With Sony already sued for altering billboard adverts in the Spiderman movie, the patent application is both highly exciting for online advertising but as usual throws up loads of legal questions, first of all would be this.

With Google talking about an advertising auction for placement of the virtual adverts some questions are raised.


If you owned a restaurant in a popular location could a rival bid to replace your own advert (banner, billboard, poster etc) with theirs? As the geographical location of the advert could be “hot linked” (the actual restaurant could be an advert sending people who clicked to a website or offer) it could be possible therefore to mute a rival by brute advertising force…assuming this was possible it would make sense that Google brought in a clause that when registering as an account holder, the use of the building was classified and only non competing brands could compete on the advert to be shown…tricky to keep up to date but perhaps less so if only major capital cities were utilising this technology.

Watch how this might look with a cool video using augmented reality to alter Time Square billboard adverts as you look through the smartphone camera:

Augmented Reality Advertising Takeover in Times Square from Will Sherman on Vimeo.

This concept has my head full of fresh ideas on what could be done with such a powerful way of interacting with users, and the fact that smartphones now allow you to be online and in the field while you are looking to spend money means that advertisers have so much more opportunity to snap you up there and then with offers and incentives and convenient ways of doing/seeing things of interest.

Would it work in smaller towns, if so how small does this concept go do you think….??

Anthony Munns