While the blogosphere was buzzing over the patent Facebook won for its news feed last week, Google earned a killer one too. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the search giant a patent for using location in an advertising system last Tuesday, which is the emerging business model for most consumer-facing location startups today.
Filed six years ago, the patent is fairly broad. It covers using location for targeting, setting a minimum price bid for an ad, offering performance analytics, and modifying the content of an ad.
This is the kind of news that on the surface looks like it could bring up more of that dirty anti-trust-monopoly talk but it’s far too early to see just how this patent will play out in the market. How Google wields this power is certainly something that remains to be seen but the folks at Digital Beat take a look at what might be brewing.
However, the location-based ad patent may give Google a nice big stick as it goes head-to-head with Apple in the world of mobile advertising. Both companies have acquired or agreed to acquire a mobile ad network in the last three months; Google agreed to buy Admob for $750 million in November, while Apple bought Quattro Wireless in January. Google actually bucked a patent Apple owns last month, when it added multi-touch functionality to its Android operating system. Perhaps this is the card the search giant had up its sleeve.
So as with anything else these days it seems like the battle lines are being drawn in every area of the online space. “Google v. Apple” and “Google v. the Rest of the World and Its Regulatory Bodies” is going to be a common theme for the foreseeable future. I suspect that Google is armed and ready but so is everyone else. It’s starting to feel like the WWE in the Internet space. Maybe there will be a pay-per-view event with Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs in a steel cage death match. I’d pay for that.
If you are into these kinds of things here is the abstract for the patent
The usefulness, and consequently the performance, of advertisements are improved by allowing businesses to better target their ads to a responsive audience. Location information is determined (or simply accepted) and used. For example, location information may be used in a relevancy determination of an ad. As another example, location information may be used in an attribute (e.g., position) arbitration. Such location information may be associated with price information, such as a maximum price bid. Such location information may be associated with ad performance information. Ad performance information may be tracked on the basis of location information. The content of an ad creative, and/or of a landing page may be selected and/or modified using location information. Finally, tools, such as user interfaces, may be provided to allow a business to enter and/or modify location information, such as location information used for targeting and location-dependent price information. The location information used to target and/or score ads may be, include, or define an area. The area may be defined by at least one geographic reference point (e.g., defined by latitude and longitude coordinates) and perhaps additional information. Thus, the area may be a circle defined by a geographic reference point and a radius, an ellipse defined by two geographic reference points and a distance sum, or a polygon defined by three or more geographic reference points, for example.
So here we go. Patents and lawsuits and egos…..oh my.