By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
Always on the cutting edge, Google is once again venturing into a new area of tech – virtual real estate, to be exact. Google has obtained a patent to secure advertising space within its Maps Street View feature, opening up a whole new world of internet advertising.
In the online reality game Second Life, users are able to buy ad space and even entire buildings, for use in their virtual world. Essentially, Google will bring this feature into the real world (i.e. Street View). If you use the Street View feature now, you see the ads, billboards, and other ad spaces from years ago. Google will use these existing ad spaces on Google Maps and sell banner advertisements to overlay them. Web users using Street View will see these ads instead. With all of the additional features that come with Maps application, it only seems natural for Google to move in this direction.
Google’s AdSense program has revolutionized online advertising, and become a revenue-generating powerhouse. Now, Google will be able to take it one step further to monetize one of their most successful applications. This move could have much greater implications for the future, and is most likely a sign that Google will start monetizing many of other widely used applications in a similar way.
The tech giant already has powerful analytics tools to measure internet user consumption. This information is invaluable, especially to online advertisers. With the introduction of this new advertising venture, any business can get in on the action, and use this technology to their advantage. Google will most likely make these opportunities as beneficial to the advertisers as possible, by incorporating location-based searches to target users more effectively, and offering pay-per-click ads, so even the smallest business can get their ad out there.
Read Write Web’s Frederic Lardinois brings up an interesting point, saying “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.” Looking at it this way, competition will be fierce, especially among top companies who have large advertising budgets. It’s very possible that Pepsi could buy a billboard occupied by Coca Cola, or vice versa.
Going forward, Google will have to carefully execute and plan out this feature. If banner advertisements interfere with the user experience, it could potentially turn internet users off from using the Maps application. Online advertising already faces some opposition, so it will be interesting to see if Google can change the way we view online advertising – and just how popular and effective this type of advertising can be.