Is Google about to revolutionize billboards?

Tech writers down south are speculating that amping up billboard advertising - the same way it changed online ads - is the ultimate aim of Google's recent patent application for a new kind of digital advertising display - touting products that are in stock at stores located just minutes away from any given consumer. But Google isn't saying much yet.

The patent application that’s sparking excitement about a potential revolution in ad delivery was filed by Mountain View, CA-HQ’d Google on Dec. 21, 2006. Some tech writers in the US picked up on the story last week, but their coverage so far contains much speculation and little in the way of official comments.

Google’s Toronto office declined to comment, but California-based Google spokesperson Ricardo Reyes tells MiC: ‘We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of them later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.’

The patent application abstract describes an electronic network of display devices, and systems and methods for allocating space for ads. Retailer and products (or product categories) available in the vicinity of the display devices are maintained in a database. ‘Advertisers may upload advertisement messages to a server specifying information such as budget, price per impression, preferred billboards and/or other constraints,’ says United States Patent Application #20060287913. ‘One or more keywords or other descriptors are specified for each advertisement message. The system then generates an advertising campaign specifying where the advertisement message is to be output and send the messages to the specified displays. The output may consist of various forms including video, audio, printed incentive, interactive data transfers and/or combinations of these.’