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Google Maps could be chocked full-O-ads

I was glancing at Google Maps of Tokyo when I noticed just how many ads they have running in them! I can see icons for all sorts of chain restaurants for instance, including: McDonald’s, Baskin-Robbins, 7-Eleven, Royal Host, Mini Stop, Taco John’s, Denny’s, KFC, ampm, etc.

Ads in Google Maps, Tokyo
(click to enlarge)

Now, we’ve already seen ads in Google Maps here in America, but in a much more limited deployment:

Google Maps Ads in the US
(click to enlarge)

The Tokyo map ads are not clickable like the ads in the states.

What’s really different with the Tokyo map is the density of ads within the maps is much greater, and there seems to be much more variety of companies advertising. I can only see this as the likely future for Google Maps here in the US, too — more ads, from more companies.

UPDATE 3/18/2010: Mike Blumenthal reports on how icon ads have been added to Google Maps in Australia.

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KFC Ad Targeting Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and MSN Earth

KFC just constructed a giant ad of their logo/mascot, Colonel Saunders, out in the Nevada desert, in order to “make it viewable from space”. The ad was intentionally constructed near Area 51, the secretive military site that many UFO conspiracy theorists claim to be a hotbed for military testing of alien technologies. Their press release states:

“The Colonel Sanders ‘astrovertisement’ was built in Rachel, Nevada, the ‘UFO Capital of the World’, just off the world’s only extraterrestrial Highway, in the infamous Area 51.”

Here’s a Google video of its construction.

KFC space logo
(click to enlarge)

Aside from all their jokes about advertising to space aliens, KFC has actually constructed something that will show up in the satellite pix that many are viewing through Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, and MSN Live Maps.

For a fun bit of linkbait, the ad’s website allows one to search around for a hidden message by zooming in and panning around. Finding the message allows one to win a free sandwich.

Now, I’ve joked before about optimizing roof ads for Google Maps, but this gargantuan Colonel ad is no joke — this took some serious money to construct! One of my friends who works for Yum! Brands’ corporate offices remarked that she could now see why their executives were pushing so heavily for cost-cutting — they’re spending tons on marketing to space aliens!

Jokes aside, this type of advertisement may become increasingly serious business as more and more businesses target people who are browsing around viewing satellite pictures through Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, and MSN Live Maps. This sort of thing is being called “mapvertising” or “roofvertising”.

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