Billboards, Street View, and Google
Shared by Another Idea from HEILBrice Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This afternoon one of our designers came across an interesting thread dealing with Google’s amazingly cool “Street View” feature within Google Maps and the photos of billboards that are part of the Street View cache. Rarely does have anything marketing related on it, but this time they have brought up an interesting point.

We, as marketers, love new ways of reaching our audiences and we can’t wait to be the first to do the “new thing.” Here’s the new thing. Ready?

Go to Google Maps. Search for a major landmark. Now go to Street View. Some little car drove all those roads taking 360-degree photos from the perspective of the driver. Now, if you chose a landmark that has billboards near it, you should be able to spot a few in the street. You can view the mode and depending on the distance from the camera, you should be able to read these ads with no problem. Someone at Google had the idea of finding billboards in the photo collections of the Street View locations and decided that these photos could easily be manipulated to hold new advertisements, more specifically AdWords.

Here’s the problem, someone is paying for that billboard to host an ad with the hopes that it’d not only be seen in plain sight, but that it’d also be photographed (stadiums, major city centers like Time Square) or possibly appear in the background of a field reporter’s footage on the six o’clock news. There’s a conflict here. Can Google sell that space in its photos, cover up the existing ads and replace them with different ones? Some would say that this is perfectly acceptable since any common person can take a photo of public place and Photoshop it to oblivion. There’s still the difference of money. A photographer is more likely to completely remove an unpleasant billboard rather than replace the ad with something else and then publish it while collecting a check from a client.  But if the most popular search engine (and the largest online media company) is doing this on a mass level, the answer probably isn’t as cut and dry.

It’s an interesting thought which can stem to all kinds of ideas and arguments. Just an interesting bit for you to think over.

Read the Gizmodo article via this link.