Google Street View maps are fun and informative, and soon they may be be an ad venue as well: PC World reports Google has obtained a patent on technology for “identifying groups of features in an online geographic view of a real property and replacing and/or augmenting the groups of features with advertisement information” — that is, changing signs, posters and billboards within the Street View to conform with whatever the property owner wants to sell on them now.
Then the pictured ad — or any other property that made itself available to the network — could be hyperlinked. So, if you see an ad for Macy’s, say (or even a Macy’s outlet), you could click through it to the web site.
It doesn’t appear that this would be limited to, as Fast Company puts it, “digital updates in real time” — that is, changing the signs from what Google’s roving teams have captured to conform to what’s presently on them. Customers may also be able to purchase unused space and put a new ad on it in Street View.
The patent summary refers to “receiving data regarding the availability of the identified discrete region of interest to public bidding. The received data includes information regarding a business or residence.” It also refers to named elements — “the coffee shop sign and/or the coffee shop logo within the sign” — but we can’t find anything that would proscribe Google from altering what their cameras pick up. (They already do it in compliance with privacy concerns in some jurisdictions.)
So maybe someone who doesn’t want to put a billboard on his home would be able to collect ad revenue by letting Google put it on a picture of his home. If his neighborhood was the site of some newsworthy occurrence — like a murder, or a run-over deer — he might find himself sitting on a hot property, and be compensated accordingly.