Feeds

Google gets all Minority Report with Street View

As if you expected anything less

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Yes, Google is exploring the possibility of slipping ads into Street View, its virtual reality project that seeks to photograph the world and recreate it online.

According to Cnet, a Google presentation recently delivered to European marketing and ad agencies at least hints at a future where Street View does ads, virtually recreating the sort of ad-saturated dystopia portrayed in sci-fi cinema like Minority Report and Brazil.

And it's no surprise.

In 2007, Google filed for a patent on a system that automatically recognizes word and characters that turn up in digital photos. One of the Googlers behind the patent application was Luc Vincent, self-described as one of the leaders of the Street View project, and naturally, the application discussed using the system to serve ads.

"In one implementation, advertisements are presented along with the presented image," the application read. "For example, an advertisement can be presented for the business identified in the image. Alternatively, one or more advertisements can be presented for alternative businesses. Additionally, the advertisement can be for one or more products associated with the business in the presented image, user search terms, or according to other criteria."

Then, in March of last year, a startup calling itself Pixazza debuted a new-age ad system that serves up ads when web surfers mouse over net photos. The company also unveiled Google as one of its primary backers, and its headquarters are in Mountain View, just down the road from the Google Chocolate Factory.

"Pixazza hopes to do for images what Google’s AdSense did for web pages,” read a canned statement from chief executive Bob Lisbonne, a former senior vice president and the general manager of Netscape’s browser division.

It looks something like this:

Pixazza

Google is already serving text ads when you search for public pics on its Picasa photo-sharing site, and we all know it's working overtime to slip ads into YouTube videos. With Street View, it's only a matter of time.

According to Cnet, Google's European presentation mooted the idea of Street View ads that link back to merchant info in its Local Business Center database. Somehow, they would also tap its Favorite Places program, where businesses attach bar codes to their (real) storefronts so that people (physically) passing by can bring up info and special offers on their smartphones.

Google Street View ads

So, we'll have links to Google ads in the real world and links to Google ads in the virtual version of the real world. And in the virtual version, Google's presentation indicates, they'll appear like floating billboards.

You see, Google is taking the shortcut to Minority Report. Rather than bring the targeted ads to the real world, it's bringing the real world to the targeted ads. Yes, it's less disturbing. But only just. Street View was creepy enough already.

And if you aren't creeped out by Street View, if you believe in it, doesn't the ad serving defeat the purpose? We thought the idea was to recreate the real world. But now Google intends to tamper with its recreation for the sake of its all-important ad dollar. Serving ads alongside search results or book scans or toilet-flushing cat videos in one thing. This is another. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.