A Googolplex Little Pieces: Google Plans Virtual Billboards

Google is already poised to take over the world with their many, many endeavors. Now they’ve been granted a patent for a new type of advertising that combines physical billboards, internet links, and Google Street View. The patent describes how the software will identify potential advertising sites using characteristics like corners and edges, then either insert a link that corresponds with the existing image or replace the image with a new one. Included in the patent is some vague language about an online auction system that may be used to auction off ad space.

What this likely means for the future of Street View is an enhanced experience for people who are looking for information on a specific location or business. Imagine looking up how to get there, then being able to click a picture of the building on Street View that will take you directly to the business’ website. Although it’s not explicitly stated in the patent, it could possibly also mean that Google will start selling virtual billboard space in Street View.

There’s been some speculation that businesses who rent the real-life billboards will be less than thrilled about their ads being covered over digitally, but we wonder if they have any say in the matter. Legally it could be kind of a hassle to get everyone on board, but as far as concepts go, we’re kind of liking this. Despite the rampant consumerism this represents, the technology involved in making this happen is undoubtedly going to be impressive.

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See more in Digital Design or under Technology. January, 2010.