I spend waaay too much time in Google Maps. I love it. Part of it is the history aspect. Part is the technology aspect. Part is just the ability to plan and know what an area or route looks like without having to go there. I used TerraServer and MapQuest before Google Maps, and they were amazing for their time. But Google Maps is the juggernaut. So much information about so many places in the world – with many of those places visible in Street View, as if you were standing there. It’s really an amazing marriage of technology and people.
Today, I had old episodes of NYPD Blue playing (from 1994), and in one of their ‘between-scenes’ montages, they showed a building in New York with a big billboard. In Google Maps, I found the same location from the show and the billboard. That’s just some weird thing I do. Then it hit me… I see billboards all the time when I’m cruising around Google Maps. A LOT of billboards. And the question came to mind… COULD Google “re-sell” those billboards in Google Maps? Does ANYONE who takes a photo, have the right to edit or modify their photo? My first thought is, yes.
If it’s true that someone – or a business – can modify their own photos… then the leap to “re-selling” billboards seems fairly easy. Google knows which locations are most viewed in Google Maps Street View. Which means, they know how often people can see the billboards in those areas. Then it’s just a matter of digitally mapping selected billboards, and replacing the original ads with new ads. Poof… another (small) revenue stream for Google. I seem to recall that this is/was done in popular video games too – although much easier for those guys, as they’ve created those worlds digitally to begin with, so mapping their billboards is much easier.
Sure, this isn’t a huge money maker for Google – but I think it’s an interesting idea.