Microsoft Maps Out Virtual Ad Medium

So Microsoft announced today that its three-dimensional mapping technology has advanced with urban landscapes and will now have the addition of billboards.  Imagine Google Ajax satellite maps that zoom into NYC and then shift horizontally into Manhattan Island will billboards hanging off the Empire State Building for GAP!

These realistic photo representations of what will start out as 15 major US cities will be added to Microsoft’s Live Search offering. 

So this is where the conversion really begins.  One day you will no longer need the phone book, or Google search in combination with Mapquest.  You go to Microsoft Search, type in Plumber and your zip code and it will zoom you in to your city and display billboards of plumbers in your area.  Of course plumbers who did not buy billboards will be listed below.  I wonder if Microsoft gets to decide which buildings get billboarded or if the building itself has some sort of property right?

This is a classified ad play if you ask me.  The target here will be on the local level.  Mapping technologies is utilized by people who are looking for locations, either to go somewhere, find something or know where something is. 

But branding and direct response advertising campaigns will also be very effective insomuch that the impressions counts will be high.  While someone is looking at a location, their eyes will pass through billboards.  And unlike a branding billboard you pass in the car, these will be clickable.  They will also print on maps that get printed.  So the application of this technology could be of huge impact.

I would watch this one closely.

Now, flip side … Microsoft is not usually known to be the leader in technologies like this.  They are also not known to be leaders in the advertising sales space.  I know another mapping technology out their that could probably include this pretty quickly (in a relative sense) and have the ad sales capacity to rival its success.  After all, Google has dominated every other area its entered thus far.

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