Google Earth & Microsoft Virtual Earth: Some Advertising Examples

Read in this month’s Business 2.0:

“This spring Saturn is looking to roll out a nationwide version of an online ad for its new Aura sedan built on Google Earth technology. Web users don’t have to download the mapping software; they just watch as the screen zooms all the way down from space into the nearest Saturn dealership – located by their IP address – where a salesman offers them a test-drive. A beta version of the ad, targeted at just six U.S. cities, received millions of click-throughs, according to Gokul Rajaram, product management director for Google AdSense. (You can view this 3-d ad here.)”

“It also resulted in more than 1,000 requests for a test-drive – which prompted Saturn’s ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, to start inventing campaigns for its other clients using Google Earth. “Every retail chain will eventually do this,” says Jeff Goodby, co-founder of the San Francisco-based agency.”

“Microsoft has already rolled out ads inside Virtual Earth 3D for major sponsors like Fox and Nissan. Users will soon be able to zoom through virtual versions of real cities with billboards advertising local hotels, restaurants, or day trips.”

What it means: this is really cool but it’s still a very static execution, i.e. more like a TV ad online. The real difference is the IP targetting. I’m sure they’ve done the ads that way to avoid the download problem (you need to install a software in order to use both MSN & Google’s services). But in this case, you can’t really use the service at its fullest (driving directions, etc.). The real 3D mapping killer-app (for advertising) will happen when you don’t have to download anything to navigate in these virtual worlds.

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