Location-Based Advertising with Augmented Reality


I know the title above sounds somewhat Blade Runner-esque…but bear with me. I’ll explain.

Today location-based online advertising revolves around services like Google AdWords, which allow you to set a target local area for your ads (so you — the Florida-based mechanic — can make sure your ad for ‘Auto Mechanics’ only appears to people searching for auto mechanics in the Tampa Bay area, but not to people in Boise, Idaho). If you’re a local business (such as an attorney or a house painter), targeting your specific location with your ads is a very smart idea.

But things on the web are always changing, and Augmented Reality is the new kid on the block.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)? Basically, it’s a class of technologies that place data from the web on top of a camera view of the physical world. So when you view your surroundings with a camera, you can see annotations to the places in your view as you move the camera around. All thanks to the GPS features of new digital cameras and camera phones.

So picture an application from Yelp.com that allows you to stand on a busy city block, turn on your phone’s camera, and see which nearby restaurant in your field of view gets the best reviews. With AR, it’s possible.

Brightkites Best Buy ads. Terminator, eat your heart out.

But that’s just the beginning.

Today location-based social network Brightkite announced it has partnered with Best Buy to run Augmented Reality ads in the Brightkite iPhone & Android app. In what is supposedly the first AR advertising solution in the U.S., Brightkite will display markers for nearby Best Buy locations in images from its social network.

As Marshall Kirkpatrick at RWW points out, the world of AR advertising is brand new, but the idea has a long way to go. For instance, currently the Best Buy markers appear at all times, even when users search for things completely unrelated to Best Buy. In the modern world of highly-targeted ads, this sort of irrelevant advertising won’t do.

But still, imagine the possibilities of being able to serve up a special offer to a potential customer who’s looking for your products and services – and is within sight of your business. As Augmented Reality features are added to more devices, that sort of geotargeted advertising should be just around the corner.

Kipp Chambers
Sr. Internet Marketing Specialist

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