Google Diversifies… Sort of: Ads in Games & Patenting Digital Billboards

Gaming Microsoft & Google Tech News

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has not one but two articles on Google’s latest plans. The first article deals with Google’s possible acquisition of San Francisco based Adscape Media, a provider of online in-game advertising. The second article focuses around Google patenting digital billboards. Here’s what Google had to see about each of these moves:

Unnamed Google spokesman on Adscape deal:

“We are always considering new ways to extend Google’s advertising program to benefit our users, advertisers and publishers. In-game advertising offers one such possible extension among many others.”

Google spokesman Ricard Reyes on digital billboards patent filing:

“We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t.”

Fairly typical broad-based PR answers… No doubt both of these moves could help Google continue down the the path of becoming the advertising king both on and offline.

Sure enough, the billboard business is being described with words like “booming” and has an estimated value of $7.4 billion for this year in the U.S. alone. And of course most of what’s out there is static paper. The idea would be for Google to use its online ad targeting technology but in an outdoor, offline setting. Digital billboards can scroll through different ads and have the potential of being highly targeted.

Pete Winkler of PricewaterhouseCoopers compares the outdoor advertising model to the online environment:

“We’re in the early stage of the evolution of new models for digital outdoor advertising, just like we’re in the early stages of new models for Internet advertising.”

And Google moving to in-game ads makes just as much sense (if not more). It’s already testing newspapers and radio ads, with talk of television ads on the way. And let’s not forget Electronic Arts excitement over its new found marriage with in-game advertising. The company announced that it has already made bank with in-game advertising for just one game.

But still, some investors are worried about Google and its one-trick-pony status. The company is innovative, to be sure. But practically everything it does in the money-making department is based on some form of advertising. Just like Microsoft diversified (adding gaming consoles among other things to its software cash cow) preemptively (i.e. talks of software not being as needed as it once was), will Google need to do the same eventually? Or is advertising all it needs?

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