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Ads in Google Maps Street View: A Sign of Things to Come

Google is charting new territory in the virtual world of advertising. The company wants to plaster the digital billboards that pop up in Google Maps street view with real-time promos for products. Rather than generate a street view with some dated movie poster, you could soon be looking at a shill for a current box office release that is clickable for a trailer and play times, Popular Science reports.

This wouldn't have worked on regular Google Maps, because: a.) People use them to check out places that they don't actually end up visiting — it's pointless to pimp a fast food joint to someone who's behind his keyboard. And, b.) The directional printouts that people bring along on road trips are sometimes tough to follow. Most people are probably concentrating so hard on not getting lost or getting in a wreck that they will miss some little icon on their printed maps denoting nearby outlet mall.

Enter textual direction: Local bidders compete for GPS-specific ads on a Garmin or TomTom that would actually re-route the driver to the point of sale.

Picture it. You are driving down the road when that soothing lady voice suddenly becomes a turn-by-turn pitch woman: "Merge onto I-85. Continue two miles toward the McDonald's with delicious extra value meals at Exit 18. If you would like to satisfy your hunger, take ramp on left."


"Continue one mile toward Starbucks drive-thru at Exit 19. If you are tired, please use this pop-up coupon for one-dollar off a venti drip coffee."


"Estimated time of arrival home is 15 minutes. Blockbuster at Exit 20 currently has new releases of Avatar available. Would you like to make it a Blockbuster night?"

[Via ReadWriteWeb ]

[Photo by thms / CC BY 2.0]

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  • Gregory Ferenstein

    Ben, that's such a brilliantly stealthy way of slipping in advertising, I think you may have just given them an idea. That said, would you mind advertising for this free service?


  • Kevin Beard

    I wrote a paper about a similar idea three years ago: (

    The basic idea is that google (and others with lots of your personal information) could offer personalized coupons based on your preferences, buying habits, time, etc. The ability to offer everyone different discounts is price discrimination - i.e. charging different people different prices for the same product; it would likely allow companies to capture a greater portion of consumer surplus, and cause the average transacted price for products to rise.