Natural Search Blog


Guerilla Marketing & Google Maps

My article on “Six Odd Tactics For Getting Ads Into Google Maps” posted today on Search Engine Land, and I believe many of my regular readers should find it moderately entertaining. The piece covers how some elements of guerrilla marketing have found their way into some Google Maps advertising patents, and also how some others have used creative means to get messages into Maps via “roofvertising”, “skywriting” and more.

Google in Digital Graffiti

Those familiar with Natural Search Blog may remember some of my similar past work here outlining laser graffiti ads on buildings, roofvertising, marriage proposals in Google Maps, “earth art” geoglyph ads, and sponsoring town names as an Ultimate Local SEO tactic.

It’s not surprising to see guerilla marketing tactics finding their way into Google Maps. Not only does Google itself seek to introduce disruptive technology innovations, but I expect that as Satellite and Aerial photos may get more frequently updated in such interfaces we’ll be bound to see a whole lot more efforts from people trying to get messages conveyed through the Maps interfaces.

The real question I’m left with, is if Google resells ad space on pictures of people’s rooftops and billboards, would they owe anything back to the original property owners?!?

Marriage Proposals Via Google Maps

What is it with Google Maps that seems to inspire people to propose marriage?

Proposal 2.0 - Marry Me Leslie
(Click to enlarge – Marry Me Leslie)

Googler Michael Weiss-Malik, a member of the Google Geo Team, planned ahead and stood at the side of the road when the Google Street View pictures were being updated in a drive-by photo shoot. (Read Michael’s explanation of what he did and why.) Google has been aggressively expanding Street View images this summer.

Michael isn’t the first to have a marriage proposal appear in Google Maps. Here’s a few more we’ve collected in the past: (more…)

Where’s Waldo in Google Earth

In a very clever bit of marketing, Canadian artist Melanie Coles has created a large rooftop image of the iconic character found in the popular Where’s Waldo? book series.

Where's Waldo in Google Maps?
(click to enlarge)

The image is located somewhere in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was created with the specific intention of being findable via Google Earth (warning, I have the location pinpointed in a link and geocoordinates at the end of this post). It will be a while before Waldo can be found in Google Earth (or in Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, or MS Live Search Maps, for that matter), because there is a time lag in between when satellite images and aerial photos get updated in those services — so, it could be six months to a year before the image is really findable and viewable online.

The image was created as a demonstration of a viral game for Coles’ graduation art project at the Emily Carr Institute. Her blog statement on the project says: (more…)

Examples of Roof Ads

I thought it might be interesting to do a survey of roof ads from around the country, so here are a number of examples that can be found in online mapping systems such as Google Maps.

Closeup of Amoco Roof Ad Amoco Welcomes You To The Big Apple
Roof Ad in New York City

If you recall, over a year ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about how to optimize rooftop ads for best exposure in online maps, although some of the tips could actually be taken seriously if one did wish to market through advertising in this manner.

Rooftop Ads seen near Miami Airport
Roof Ads near Miami Airport (click to enlarge)

Now, most of the “roofvertisements” I could find were likely done with the intention of targeting promotional messages to airplane passengers, since most of the examples I can find are from buildings located near major airports. In happy serendipity for these companies, these ads are now also visible through the satellite images and aerial photos that have become table stakes for map search interfaces, so they’re getting dual use for them along with extra ad impressions. It’s pretty surprising to me that more companies haven’t painted promotional copy on their roofs, though, since I see tons of expansive, white roof “canvas” that would be ideal for this located near airports.

The Salvation Army rooftop ad, Seattle
The Salvation Army in Seattle – (click to enlarge)

Click through for even more samples. (more…)

Factory Offers Up Rooftop Space for Ads

A company named Kumomo has issued a press release recently, announcing that it will sell rooftop ad space on one of Malaysia’s largest factories. Is this to be the first node in a network of roof billboard advertising space? The ads would be intended to be seen in Google Maps/Earth and via airplanes.

The rooftop ad would be installed by the California company, RoofAds, which specializes in painting logos and art onto the tops of buildings. Although Kumomo’s site and press release are vague about details on the roof in question, after considerable searching of satellite pics in Google Maps I was finally able to locate the location of the building where they’re intending to place the ad. Disconcertingly, the exact place is mostly obscured by clouds in the Google satellite pic, or perhaps it’s the factory’s own smoke:

Malaysian Factory Offering Roof Space for Ad
click to enlarge

(more…)

“Roofvertising” mentioned in the news

Greg Sterling and I were quoted in a news story in yesterday’s USAToday by Craig Wilson in an article titled “Shout a message from the rooftops to the world“, along with Google Earth’s Chikai Ohazama. The article is about how people are increasingly trying to use Google Maps and other online mapping systems to communicate messages or display ads through them. People place the messages on rooftops or other ground surfaces which may be seen via the satellite pix or aerial photos in those interfaces.

Rooftop Advertising
Rooftop Ads or “Roofvertising” is becoming more common

(more…)

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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Roofvertising

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