Google was granted a patent called "Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising" on January 7. The patent lets Google use its technology to scan its Street Views imagery for posters, billboards and other spaces used for advertising purposes. Google can then stick ads there, and may even auction them off. The patent notes, "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.)."
The idea makes sense to some degree, but it is not new at all. In fact, Blue Dasher demonstrated the idea of placing advertisements on billboards captured by street cams in 2008. Blue Dasher's press release from 2008 says, "In both Europe and the US, we've seen a great deal of interest in what can be done with this platform to improve site performance, such as lead generation or transaction revenue, and also increase ad revenue with a new, highly differentiated opportunity for advertisers to embed multi-media images."
With this idea already well over two years old, it's curious that Google didn't jump on it sooner. Google, for its part, has said not to infer anything about future services based on its patents.
[Via Telegraph UK]