Google’s Ad Serving Plan: Closing in on Offline

    January 19, 2007

Two recent patents indicate that Google is taking significant steps to finding more places to put search, navigation, and ads.

The screenshot for one product, Google Kiosk, is fascinating because it gives an important glimpse of what the service might look like, and is a reminder that with initiative, a company like Google will have no trouble finding centrally-located, climate-controlled spaces to grow into.

Extending beyond simple information about the stores in the mall, IMHO, we’ll eventually see store inventories linked to mobile devices (or the kiosks), possibly linked to locations on shelves, at least in more enlightened establishments. That way, the world of shopping moves beyond the top-down, mysterious, “we’ll merchandise to you” model, to the “I want the option to find stuff faster” approach.

Billboard ad serving appears also to be a big part of the plans, as we’ve speculated for some time now. This analyst appears to go slightly overboard in interpreting the meaning of the patent’s claim that the “system” will “generate an ad campaign,” thus putting all the ad agency creatives out of business.

I maintain that it will definitely alter the skill sets required of media buyers and ad agencies, but no, the computers aren’t going to come up with all the ads any more than a computer will write the next episode of Ugly Betty or determine the outcome of the Super Bowl (yet). The main distinguishing characteristic of including uploadable billboard ads in an auction-based system is a change in the economics of ad placement on billboards.

Speaking of kiosks, I can’t help but get excited about (and thus plug) the convergence of online and offline represented by today’s activity down at the Metro Toronto Home Show (continuing through Sunday Jan. 21). A startup I’m closely involved with, HomeStars (beta…we’ve just come to a final decision on a new name – TBA – as a plan to scale up is finalized), is focused on consumer reviews of home renovation contractors and retailers.

The kiosks we place at our booth at Home Shows are intended to showcase the ability to enter a review into the system – while the consumer is actively thinking about their home reno experiences (try that, TripAdvisor!!). The new review form was just finished by our programmer (Chief Builder of Web Things), Raja; the work of making and donating the kiosks, courtesy of Dan the Handyman.

The decisions as to how to solicit reviews and how to make the form usable: evolved over 18 months of collaborative effort among ourselves with the help of all staff and all the consumers who have helped us study the task. (18 months to figure out how to ask four questions?! yep.) This idea of entering reviews in person actually seems every bit as popular as doing it online in your own space. When Nancy and Doug (founder and Home Show coordinator, respectively) took this idea to the Vancouver Home Show, people were lined up writing out paper reviews due to a lack of computers!

Now, back to that kiosk patent idea… maybe we at HomeStars should be hiring for a Chief Builder of Legal Mumbo-Jumbo!?



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Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.