How Google Might Enable Property Owner Advertising in Streetviews Images

Imagine that you are the owner of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in Manhattan, New York, and you have a marquee banner that lets passersby know what performances are currently taking place on your stage, as well as posters advertising coming attractions.

Google has captured images of your theatre for Google Maps StreetViews, and have included a number of images that you may have uploaded via Google’s Local Business Center, or that others have taken of the area around the theater.

An image from Google’s Streetview of the theatre shows at least four billboard posters on the front wall of the building, which can be seen by viewers.

a Google Streetview image of the Eugene O'Neill theatre showing posters advertising coming shows.

Chances are that the posters may be outdated. Imagine being able to update them, as the owner of the theatre. Or to sell those spots to advertisers?

Google has also added the ability for business owners to add images to their local business listings, that can be displayed in a Streetview display of a business location, such as the following:

a Google Streetview image of the Eugene O'Neill theatre showing posters advertising coming shows.

People other than a business owner can add images of a business to Google, but consider that some of those images may be old, and may contain some dated information. As cold as it is today, I’m ready for a spring time production of anything, even a broadway “Spring Awakening” show like the one shown on the marquee above.

Imagine a site owner being able to update parts of images, such as marquees. I would imagine that they would only be able to change their own images, rather than one’s submitted by someone else, as the above image seems to be.

Or imagine a property owner allowing others to bid upon adding images, or adding messages in posters or banners that might appear in an image in Google’s Streetviews pictures.

A patent filing from Google describes a way for Google to let property owners claim their properties in Streetviews, to make changes to streetview scenes and associated images, and to allow people to bid to advertise on those pictures.

The patent is:

Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising
Invented by Ryan Hickman
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20100004995
Published January 7, 2010
Filed July 7, 2008


Techniques for identifying groups of features in an online geographic view of a real property and replacing and/or augmenting the groups of features with advertisement information are described.

The techniques include:

  • Providing a geographic view of a property within an online property management system,
  • Identifying a region of interest in the geographic view,
  • Analyzing the geographic view to locate one or more promotional features within the geographic view positioned upon a real property region,
  • Providing a user-selectable link associated with the region of interest in the geographic view,
  • Receiving a request for the region of interest in the geographic view via the user-selectable link,
  • Receiving data to alter at least one of the behavior or the appearance of the region of interest,
  • Storing the data in association with the geographic view, and;
  • Updating the region of interest within the geographic view based upon the received data.

Streetviews has been one of my favorite parts of Google Maps because it allows you to actually take a look at places that you might consider visiting in person. It also seems to be an important part of the mobile Google Maps Navigation, since as Google tells us on their Google Maps Navigation page, the application “…automatically switches to Street View as you approach your destination.”

While the patent filing describes how such an advertising system might work with Google Streetviews, it also provides some nice images that capture how that advertising process might work. Rather than summarizing the process, I’m going to provide a number of those images.

From one of the first images, it appears that this process would work through the Google Local Business section of Google. They show us the interface that a business owner uses to add their business to Google, or update information about their business and location:

Google Local Business Center business owner interface.

An example image in the patent filing shnows a number of possible places that advertising might be shown on an image:

Example of available advertising spots on an image that might be found in Streetviews

An auction interface screen allows a business owner to elect to have people bid upon advertisements upon images of their property, including the chance to select categories of advertisers and to deny some other categories:

An auction interface a property owner might use to let others know that advertising spots are available on Streetview images.

The patent application images also include an example advertisement upload interface that advertisers can use to submit their ads, including selections of categories and geographic/location information for those ads.

An interface that could be used to upload Streetview advertisements.

Finally, an advertisement placement bidding screen enables advertisers to bid upon where their ads might appear, including the locations and images that they might be shown at:

An interface that could be used to enter bids for advertising on Streetview images.


While this Streetviews advertising process hasn’t been put into place by Google, it is possible that it’s something they might launch. Streetviews looks like it has become an important part of Google Maps Navigation, and Google has invested a fair amount of money and effort in their Streetviews project.

If the opportunity became available, would you advertise in Streetviews? Would you allow others to advertise on your property?

Keep in mind, that property owners could also update their own information within StreetViews under the process described in this patent filing. So, for instance, if you really were the owner of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, you could make sure that the image of your theatre appearing in Streetviews showed the name of the current production being performed on your stage.


Author: Bill Slawski

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