Google’s got a patent on the tech to recognize photos in Streetview images, and then replace them with current imagery. Obviously, one big use of this would be marketing. If you see a billboard in a Streetview image, Google will be able to update that image with a current billboard any time the image is viewed. Imagine you are wondering what movies are playing at the local megaplex. Do you look it up? No, you go to Streetview and virtually walk by the front of the theater and see what “posters” are up. They could run trailers in frames in front of the theater all the time. What exhibit is running at the museum this month? Take a look while looking up the address.
Basically, if someone is looking for information, Streetview could be a great way to get it to them. This could be useful if what you are looking for is connected to the location, like the movie example. If you want to know what movie is playing at the theater near the mall, sure.
But this example fails when someone is searching for a movie and not the theater. This search isn’t location based, it eventually gets to a location, but by that point, you already know what movies are there.
Even with this slight catch, there could be a lot of potential here for ads and revenue. The owner of a billboard could buy the Google Streetview ad space so that when anyone views it, it says “Your ad here, call me.” In real life, the billboard is leased by another paying customer, but in the virtual world, it can be entirely different. Think of the ads that run behind the batters during the World Series games. Those ads can be one thing in real life, but on broadcast TV, they are entirely different. Outdoor advertising agencies could do their self promos in virtual space, delivering discounts, promos, and premiums upgrade offers directly to the people that will be looking at the space. On this line, all types of real estate possibilities exist.
So what does Google know about how Streetview is used? How do we use it? We all looked at our house and neighborhood a few times. We all looked up an address of some business we were trying to find and checked to see where the actual door was or how much parking they have, right? It would be interesting to see where the hottest places in Streetview are located. That would give a great indication of how useful this could be.
Where could more active marketing work into this? Could physical therapy companies put ads on the side of virtual hospitals? Could rehab centers put ads on the billboards outside virtual bars? Why not? What connections would be effective? Will every location on Streetview end up looking like the commercial district of downtown Tokyo? And will downtown Tokyo billboards sell a premium offer that includes placement in all virtual views? Political ads could go all over any signage on landmarks around Washington DC tourist spots. Even better, a national political party decides where they will have their next convention, buys up all the virtual ad space around it, and then announces their convention location. Groups interested in attending will be looking at the street view to help them plan their connection to the event. Man, this could get fun!
How far away are we from NBA stars leasing out the space on their forehead and bicep for virtual replacement on internet feeds of the game? Crazy? So were automobiles.
This all leads us to the augmented reality world in a big way. Soon, we will see what someone has paid for us to see, instead of what was there for the photo (but how trustworthy was that photo in the first place?). Hopefully for the short term, Google will put these ads as a layer we can disable if we so choose.
Final thought: all the above is simply about the basic uses of this, but Google is sneaky sometimes. Are there other ways they could apply this? What’s the purpose that isn’t so obvious?