Google Prediction for 2006: Google-Real

Mary on a Billboard
Photo courtesy of ratterrell

If you aren't familiar with the way the AdSense/AdWords program works at Google, it goes something like this: If you are someone with something to advertise you can set up an account that will place your ad on a search results page. You can specify which search results page you want your ad to show up on by specifying the keywords of the search query. So if you sell fruit, you can have Google put your ad up on the search results page when someone searches for "oranges". Google will charge an advertiser for this placement. But, clever people that Google are, they don't fix the price. The price is set in an auction that basically causes more profitable words to cost more. A very expensive word to advertise next to is "sex". Google will charge you over $1.00 everytime someone clicks on your ad advertised next to a search that includes "sex." In the course of a single day, (as of right now) it will cost you over $48,000 to place such an advertisement. (Meaning that 48,000 people will click on your ad) Google has some tools to help prevent you from spending more than you want and more than you plan, as you would expect, but this is the basic idea.

Another way that Google advertises is when people, like me, allow Google to put an ad on their site. (See the ad box on the right). In this case, the auction for advertisers is similar, but rather than placing ads based on words in a search query, ads are placed based on the words used on the web page. But anytime someone clicks on the ad on my site, I also get a portion of the revenue as a benefit for placing the ad on my site. So far the revenue ($1.00/month) is far less than the amount that I pay my hosting company to host this site ($9.00/month).

Anyway, so now to the point of my prediction. I predict that in 2006 Google will roll out a new type of ad medium. They will begin to buy digital billboards on streets, in grocery stores etc. Then they will begin to place the ads that usually go on web-sites on to these billboards. But because now, there are no keywords involved and no clicks involved, how will they charge their advertisers and how will they determine the type of content to put on the digital displays? This is the heart of my prediction. They will decide what is relevant to the digital display by using the results of Google Local to flavor the display. So if someone previously wanted to put an ad on webpages that talk about pinatas, now their ad will run on displays that are near stores that carry pinatas. If an advertiser wanted to advertise next to the word "orange", now their ad will show up in grocery stores, and markets that carry oranges.

The second part of my prediction relates to how Google will deal with not having "clicks" to evaluate the effectiveness of ads. I predict that initially the price of showing an ad on a Google-Real display will be related to sensors in the vicinity of the display. So, for example, it will cost more to display an ad on a street when the traffic on the street is high. It will cost more to display an ad at a grocery store checkout when the check out lane is very busy. It will cost more to display an ad on the back of an airplane seat when the seat that views it is full, less when it is empty, but the seat next to it is full and even less when the entire row is empty and only people going to the bathroom on the airplane might catch a glimpse of it. This is a subtle revolutionary change, because it currently costs a lot to advertise on billboards on busy streets, but I predict Google will allow the price to vary based on the real-time traffic information. Is there a big car accident just after the billboard? Then the cost of advertising will shoot up as sensors notice traffic is at a standstill.

Eventually I believe that Google will roll out a click mechanism that will allow you to "click" on a Google-Real ad with a cell-phone camera. The cell-phone camera will decode a watermark in the ad, will send the result to Google, Google will tally the "click", charge the advertiser, and send the person with the phone the information they requested - on their phone of course.

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