Yahoo’s Clickable Map Advertising with Product Inventory Displays

In local search, it may be possible to find locations of businesses to visit, and maps that help you travel to those places. Advertisements may be shown with the listed businesses.

A new patent application from Yahoo describes a way of allowing advertisers to integrate their inventory of available products at a specific physical location with their ad shown in Yahoo Local Search. The problem that they say this solves is that it can let consumers more easily decide which retail shops to visit to buy specific products. It may also allow shoppers to make a purchase of that product online, from the retail shop.

The patent document also notes that a system like this might assist advertisers decide where to purchase online advertisements by allowing them to see a competitor’s inventory, and by showing the advertiser’s a competitor’s locations.

Yahoo Local Search Advertising Clickable Map

Another image from the patent filing shows an advertiser interface shows one of the pricing and inventory screens in the Local Search Advertising:

Yahoo Local Search Advertising Interface

This flowchart from the document provides a nice overview of how the different pieces of search and advertising fit together in this system:

Yahoo Local Search Advertising Flowchart

This would be an interesting next step in online advertising using local search.

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6 thoughts on “Yahoo’s Clickable Map Advertising with Product Inventory Displays”

  1. This is an obvious thing. What’s next…patenting photos grouped by a map interface? Listing stuff representationally through a Google maps API or some other clickable map is not unobvious or novel. I have often considered building out similar technology. It’s just an expanded local profile…what’s next…patenting a filter on times of service…this stuff seems pathetic…particularly another recent one for product inventory.

  2. Hi Ben,

    Good points. Many patent applications never move past the application stage to become granted patents because they are fairly obvious. It’s probably better to look at many patent filings not so much with a critical eye towards how new, non obvious, or useful they might be (criteria that patent examiners attempt to review). but rather with an eye towards what assumptions might be made behind those patents.

    Does Yahoo think that they might be able to get advertisers to provide them with up-to-date inventories of products at physical storefronts?

    Would advertisers consider doing that?

    How many advertisers would even be capable of supplying such information in real time, or in timely batch submissions?

    Would doing so provide Yahoo with a competitive advantage over other search engines when it comes to local search?

    Would advertisers providing this kind of information provide them with an advantage over their competitors?

    Would consumers use such a system?

    Most patent filings don’t describe processes or devices that might transform the world, or even provide us with a new way of thinking about search, or even search marketing. But they can give us some insight into what search engines are exploring, and what direction they might take.

  3. Yep. Definitely interesting to get ideas on where things are going. What sources do you use to keep an ear-to-the-ground on these patents and patent applications as they come out? I’d love to get a better handle on what strategies might be coming down the pipe.

    John Battelle wrote about essentially this same technology in The Search on pages 176-178 like back in 2005.

    The problem as I see with patents comes down to the somewhat subjective obvious vs. nonobvious part.

    For patent reform, I propose that the obviousnessness portion of a patent should be reviewed or reviewable by a PANEL of reviewers, and then the patent duration be dependent on what percent believe it to be non-obvious. For instance — a patent once found patentable by a reviewer is then presented to a panel of 7 or 9 reviewers for non-obviousness. If 4/7 or 5/9 find it non-obvious, the patent grant is for 1 year. If 5/7 or 6/9 find it non-obvious, the patent grant is for 5 years. If 6/7 or 7/9 find it non-obvious, the patent grant is for 10 years. If 7/7 or 9/9 find it non-obvious, the patent grant is for 20 years. Do you know if anything like this has been proposed before?

    Otherwise, I think patents can be very dangerous and abusive to their true purpose of industry progression, and I think that the idea I mentioned is a quick and simple fix.

    Thanks again,

    Ben

  4. Hi Ben,

    My sources? I tend to do a lot of searches at the USPTO office, and at WIPO.

    An interesting idea on the granting of a period of time for patent exclusion based upon a percentage of nonobviousness. I’m not sure that I’ve seen that proposed before, but it might be pretty difficult to get an idea like that through. While I’ve read a few thousand patents filings over the past few years, I can’t claim to be an expert on patent reform – I havent’ been following all of the arguments and discussions being put forth by the many different sides that would like to transform our present patent system.

    And there are many different ideas out there about how to do that. It’s probably an area that I will be paying more attention to in the future.

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