Google Advertising On Billboards, Kiosks, TV, and Other Displays

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Google print ads, Google radio ads, Google content partners, what might be next?

Say you have a store, and you’d like to advertise a sale on some products on nearby billboards and electronic displays, at least until your inventory for those products reaches a certain point, or you sell out of those. You log into Adwords, and determine what you want to say in your ad, what concepts or keywords are related to the ad, provide a connection to your inventory database, and decide where you would like the ad to be shown.

How long might we have to wait for a system like this to develop? Good question. A new patent application from Google describes how something like that might work. I’m seeing signs that the reference to TV advertising in the document is being followed up with some active research.

Allocating advertising space in a network of displays
Invented Shumeet Baluja
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20060287913
Published December 21, 2006
Filed June 20, 2005


Systems and methods for allocating space for advertisements in a network of electronic display devices are provided. Attribute information indicating retailer and categories of products available for purchase in the vicinity of a display device is maintained for each device 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.

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.

From the consumer’s perspective, a system like this could offer timely information, a possible way to download and print brochures and coupons, and some interactive capabilities for those who want to find out more about specific products.

The language in this patent filing is pretty broad, and might even be seen as a reach towards offering television ads. At least, that’s what I got out of the following passage:

It should also be understood that an advertisement message as used herein may comprise audio and/or video signals, static and/or dynamic images, graphics, video, film, or other content that relate to one or more products, services, and/or entities, such as commercial entities.

Advertisement messages may comprise various visual features, including animation, sound, etc., and may also include text, such as in a text advertisement. Advertisement messages may also comprise any other promotional content or object, such as printed flyers (e.g., with maps to locations of advertising businesses), printed coupons, trinkets, gimmicks, clothing (e.g., T-shirts printed with a promotional message), candy, food, samples (e.g., product samples), and other items.

Thus, the term “advertisement message” is used herein in its broadest sense to include any content or object intended for observation, use, or consumption by one or more persons for the purpose of marketing or promoting a product or service.

While Advertisement messages are used for exemplary purposes, it should be understood that any audio and/or video content, such as television programming, may be used with the systems and methods described herein.

The displays used in systems like the ones describe here could just be output dispays, or they could be more interactive kiosks in commercial retail spaces, like shopping malls. Some examples of how one would advertise using a system like this are also detailed.

The inventor listed, Shumeet Baluja, has been involved in some other interesting work with Google, such as winning a best paper award at Euro ITV this year for his collaboration on pages about interactive TV. He had a patent published in January on advertisements on mobile phones, and an interesting paper he co-wrote on Google Mobile Search (pdf) was presented at the CHI 2006 this past spring.

This recent paper from him on TV advertising is pretty interesting, too: Advertisement Detection and Replacement using Acoustic and Visual Repetition (pdf).

Added (3:15pm EST): Scott Clark sent me an email about a post he published on Monday, discussing some of the value that an adwords approach would bring to advertisers and billboard owners: Google Adsense for Billboards Someday?. He raises some great points about things like dayparting, billboard displays on trucks, and the value that this kind of advertising would bring to local businesses.

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7 thoughts on “Google Advertising On Billboards, Kiosks, TV, and Other Displays”

  1. I’m hoping that there’s prior art on that one, and it’s too late to patent the idea. Though if you stick an adwords user interface on it, who knows?

  2. I remember that. 🙂

    Some of the congressional record: Space Advertising Prohibition Act of 1993. It added some statements to the Space Launch Act, like this one:

    the use of outer space for advertising purposes is not an appropriate use of outer space and should be prohibited.

    Good thing.

    Of course, there’s always the Moon and Mars. (;

  3. Insane. Does this mean that if the future I can advertise my URL on somebody’s forehead through the AdWords program too? I hope so, ’cause I’m tired of searching on Ebay.

  4. Does anyone remember when Space Marketing Concepts Inc. in Georgia started a buzz in the 1990s for wanting to put billboards into orbit (namely rings for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games)? Eventually legislation was introduced to ban space billboards.

    I wonder if Google will somehow revive the plan? Perhaps we can buy adwords and choose placement by constellation!

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