Wednesday, January 13, 2010

brilliantly terrifying

Via Gawker, this story wherein Google plans to market ad space in Street View, replacing real world advertising with the virtual kind:

In this patent, Google describes how it plans to identify buildings, posters, signs and billboards in these images and give advertisers the ability to replace these images with more up-to-date ads. In addition, Google also seems to plan an advertising auction for unclaimed properties.

In Google's example, the software could identify the marquis and individual window posters on a theater property and replace them with new information. Through this, a theater could promote a new play in Street View, even if the actual Street View image is completely out of date.

Of course, the patent application anticipates the most obvious question: what if the original property owner isn't interested?
The link can be associated with a property owner, for example the property owner which owns the physical property portrayed. The link can alternatively be associated with an advertiser who placed the highest bid on the image recognized within the region of interest (e.g., poster, billboard, banner, etc.). Any portion of the geographic display image in which the region of interest is located can be selectable (e.g., hot-linked). For example, the image of the coffee shop can be hot-linked to an advertisement for the coffee shop.
This gap between reality and its representation is, of course, not new: baseball fans see advertisements behind home plate that utilize a green screen, and thus aren't really there.

And in our work for the COI podcast, we already run into something similar with copyright law, as a published story and an audio recording of someone reading it are considered two distinct pieces of copyright-able artwork, and can, in fact, have two distinct owners.

But one of the joys of Street View has been knowing that I am getting a snapshot of the world as it appears there. While it's definitely a simple navigation tool, it's also virtual tourism -- and it will undoubtedly lose some of its charm as Progress Marches On.

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