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Just when you thought Google Street View couldn’t get more personal (Remember the UK controversy when Google captured images of men barfing on a sidewalk, emerging from a porn shop and getting arrested?) Fast Company reports that the search giant wants to populate billboards and ad-spaces in Street View with real-time ads.

Street View Virtual Ads

For example, instead of showing a months-old photo of an advertisement for an out-of-date movie, the studio could pay Google to constantly update the virtual billboard with an image of their latest release. Cool, huh? 

Google describes Street View as “the last zoom layer on the map - when you’ve zoomed all the way in you find yourself virtually standing on the street. But the most exciting thing about Street View is all the amazing uses that our users and partners find for it.” Could real time advertising make the feature even more useful? I think so. 

Of course all virtual billboards would link for more information opening up a host of possibilities. The link could lead to highly targeted advertisement based on user profiles. A mom would see a mini van billboard, a mid-life crisis aged male would see a sports car promo. A “mood-based” feature would also be a possibility. Users could select what type of trip they are taking. A business trip would show coffee shops, an entertainment adventure could show mini golf or movie theaters. Key in “hungry” and restaurant advertisements appear. 

Last minute discounts would be another great feature. Perhaps you’re driving by a sold-out theater – an open discounted seat offer could pop up. Additionally, consumers love feedback. Augmented Reality could be used to link reviews and merchants to an ad. 

One industry concern is the issue of who actually owns virtual space in a media buy. If one company consistently buys the same billboard on a busy street, could their competitor acquire the virtual space and overlay in the street view? It will be interesting to watch this play out.

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