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Virtual Air Rights (VAR's)

Page history last edited by John C. Havens 14 years, 5 months ago

Virtual Air Rights


In a recent article on ReadWriteWeb, Google Plans to Upgrade Old Billboards in Street View, author Frederic Lardinois describes how Google has filed a patent to try and put up their own ads in place of billboards or other real-word advertisements when viewed through Street View.


You can read the specifics in the article, but the potential of this happening hearkens to an idea I've been talking/writing about for a while now called Virtual Air Rights, or VAR's.  Long story short, this is the notion of Air Rights but in the virtual arena.  Standard air rights have established business practices surrounding how many feet above and around an advertisment or building that a person owns. In Times Square, air rights of this nature can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.


But what about the virtual arena?  As noted in the RWB article, Google feels they have a claim to older billboards that are represented virtually within their program.  As you can tell from the comments in the article, readers/commenters are about 50/50 in terms of whether they think Google has the right to charge for antiquated ads or not.  A few comments are very heated at the idea, stating that if they owned the real-world billboards, they'd be miffed if Google swapped them out in the virtual arena.


But VAR's go beyond Google (although they'll likely bring the subject to a head in 2010).  Right now I could walk into a supermarket and geo-tag ads for my product in the middle of a real-world aisle where I'm not paying a manager or the chain any money.  That tag would remain there for folks utilizing Augmented Reality indefintely.  When AR browsers become standard (or at least there are one or two that are pervasive for the general population) it seems as if first movers (or first taggers) could get a virtual land grab for ads.  Will they benefit or be seen as spam?  And will they been seen as cyber-thieves or clever guerilla marketers? 


Whatever the case, VAR's will likely need to be standardized soon or we're going to see techno-turf battles raging for a number of years to come.


We welcome your thoughts below on the subject.  VAR's?  What do you think? 





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