Google wants to put Australians on the map

As a follow-up to my Google Maps Australia post, my friend Eric Baillargeon points me to a Sydney Morning Herald story describing a cool Australia Day marketing stunt to promote the launch of the new service:

“On Friday [January 26, 2007], an aircraft hired by Google will be doing a series of low-level swoops over parts of Sydney, photographing the ground and waters below. The three-seater plane, decked out in Google livery, will have special permission to fly at an altitude of 600m. Providing the photographs turn out to be good enough quality, the images will be integrated into Google Maps, the free online mapping service used by millions of people around the world.”

“Usually, people aren’t aware when they are caught in aerial photographs that later end up being used in Google Maps. This time however Google actually wants Sydneysiders to do whatever they can to make themselves visible. The company is encouraging people to wear something distinctive, hold up a sign (face-up), draw in the sand, or even arrange themselves into a “fun formation”.

“This is the first time we have tried this on any scale,” said Mr Rasmussen, one of the original developers of Google Maps, who is based in Sydney. “We have no idea whether it will work, but we thought it’d be fun to try.” A map with times of the flyover can be found at http://www.google.com.au/australiaday2007/ and will will be updated with any changes to the schedule on the morning of January 26.”

“The images, however, will take up to another six weeks to make it on to Google Maps. “It’s a bit of an experiment and if it’s a success, we’ll probably do it in other places [around the world],” Mr Rasmussen said, indicating that Google would work on organising similar flyovers in places like Paris on Bastille Day or over cities in the United States on Independence Day.”

What it means: what a great way to have consumers embrace your new service! They will be embedded in it!

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