Google Outdoor?

ClickZ and Bill Slawski discuss Google patent filings related to local kioks and billboards (at malls). From the ClickZ article:

Google said the system would then generate an advertising campaign specifying where on the display devices the advertisement message will appear. “The output may consist of various forms, including video, audio, printed incentive, interactive data transfers and/or combinations of these,” the company said in the filing.

To put this in context, Outdoor advertising in the US is a roughly $6.2 billion dollar industry. This patent filing is part of a larger strategy to be a “one-stop” service or platform or agency (if you will) for all forms of on and offline advertising.

These electronic kiosk/billboards are a tremendous idea because:

  • They allow dynamic ad serving
  • Would tie together online and offline in a real-time way
  • Don’t require separate creative for the medium

I could write about 10,000 words on the use cases and possibilities. This is not “mobile” advertising but it combines the dynamic potential and location sensitivity of mobile with the richness and broad possibilities of the Internet.

Yahoo! about two years ago set up kiosks to demo Yahoo! Maps. Indeed, Kiosks are not a new idea and have been in existence for some time. But imagine the richness of the Internet experience in local malls (NearbyNow is trying to build this too) and elsewhere around town.

The location of the kiosk is definitively known so local ads (and offers) become viable in a way they aren’t online. Here’s a hypothetical use case:

I see a branded video ad on a mobile kiosk for apparel or appliances. I also learn where in the mall or local area I can buy the product and I’m invited to print a coupon to present at the store for a discount. You get the picture – so to speak.

There’s a search-based model when I can Interact with a kiosk or billboard (less likely) but also a huge “push”/branding opportunity for Google, where it has been trying to build relationships and inventory. (This was part of the motivation behind the YouTube acquisition.)

Yahoo! has a related, interesting user-generated content promotion going with ABC regarding its Times Square billboard in New York.

We’ll see if a “Google Outdoor” network gets built and what form it ultimately takes. But it will be a tremendous and potentially radical thing if it comes about.


I spoke with Ari Jacoby of VoiceStar about this issue and he reminded me that there are large public exclusive contracts between ad companies and municipalities that might complicate this for Google (except on private property). Partnerships would thus be required for displays on public property.


6 Responses to “Google Outdoor?”

  1. Bill Slawski Says:

    Hi Greg,

    Agree completely on the movement towards being a one-stop-shop for advertising online and off.

    The last couple of patent applications I’ve seen from Google contain an interesting definition of “property” (as in something on which ads can be presented) with a number of examples that include:

    MP3 audio programs,
    Online games,
    Email messages,
    Stadium score boards,
    Outfield walls,
    Sides of truck trailers,
    Spots in a printed program,
    Spots on a stage,
    Spots on seat backs, and;
    Audio announcements of sponsors.

    Sounds ambitious to me, but they also briefly describe how an advertiser can enter information in an online system to find “relevant” ads for those kinds of locations in the latest filing from this morning – Selecting and/or scoring content-relevant advertisements.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Bill. Very interesting.

  3. David Goldman Says:


    We are developing a large 550,000 SF shopping center in South Gate, CA (part of greater Los Angeles) that will feature an unprecendented level of multi media — approximately 20,000 SF of the most technologically advanced signage with complete audio, kiosks, web streaming, on site events that can acccommodate 5,000 people, all in an area that features over 1,000,000 people within 5 miles. Designed and built as A Celebration of Brands, for 3rd party advertisers to impart Experiential Marketing to a 95% Hispanic customer base. This is a completely revolutionary project and very much on point with Google’s plans. We may need to give them a call. Much more detailed information is available if you have an interest. Thanks.


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  6. electronic display board Says:

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    Hi. Thanks for the good read.

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