Google has just been awarded a patent for, “Transportation-aware physical advertising conversions.” This patent request was submitted back in 2011, but only recently approved. This patent will allow Google to set up within their ads the ability to schedule transportation to a local business within a set area.
For example, a restaurant can run an advertisement that offers people a great dining experience, as well as a free taxi ride to and from the establishment. The ad will have an additional option that the viewer can use to set up their transportation services. The patent covers booking taxis, busses, trains, and even autonomous vehicles (which Google has been testing for quite some time). It even goes so far as to allow for scheduling an autonomous helicopter, if that ever becomes possible.
While Google doesn’t yet offer these types of services, they now have the patent approved so they can easily start offering them. Of course, how popular this type of thing is will largely depend on the advertisers who could use it.
Google will help businesses like restaurants figure out exactly who they should be marketing to, and how much they should be willing to pay for the ad plus the transportation. Of course, higher end restaurants with larger profit margins will be much more likely to use this service. Other businesses may include hair salons, massage services, and others. The ad format could include a special offer on the service, plus an estimated time of arrival by taxi or other mode of transportation.
In what some will consider a creepy invasion of privacy, Google may request access to email calendars and personal schedules to help improve this service. (or, they may just update their ToS to say that unless you opt out, they will have access) With that, they can tailor the advertisements based on what you have going on. They wouldn’t display an ad for a happy hour special, for example, if you have meetings booked during that time.
Using a variety of personal data, they can help businesses run very targeted advertisements, which could dramatically improve conversion rates. Of course, this could also cause the cost per click of these ads to go up significantly, but for many businesses it would be well worth it knowing that customers would be driven (or flown?) right to their door.
There is no word from Google on when, or even if, this type of thing will be implemented, but it is another marketing innovation that we can all look forward to. This technology could, of course, be adjusted to meet the offline needs of many types of businesses. I was particularly interested because of the fact that this could help transition affiliate marketing to the offline world very smoothly.
An affiliate marketer could run advertisements that include transportation. Since the customer is being delivered right to the business, it would make it much easier to track sales and other details. We’ll have to wait and see what Google does with this patent.