Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Google and Free WiFi: A New Business Model

I remember the first time I saw an advertisement moving across a sidewalk at night in front of a storefront. A sort of disco light covered with a filter worked much like the iconic Bat Symbol, but moved around the sidewalk instead of the night sky. Though my eyes had been pointed down, I didn't miss the store I walked passed.

An applicable metaphor? Maybe.

Google has a great opportunity in advertising if it gets its free WiFi network up in San Francisco and elsewhere. Imagine knowing within blocks of where someone is browsing the Internet. Suggest a lunch special at the sandwich shop around the corner. Or if they are in a coffee shop, (as I am as I write) tell them about the products or services offered across the street or next door. Maybe I'll get some ice cream a few doors down after I leave.

Would it take a lot of work to do this? Take a look at Google Earth, and search for businesses. Unfortunately, the coffee shop I am in at this time is too new to be in the dataset they used, but every other coffee shop in Evanston is on the map. Google just have to add the antennas to the map and get the local merchants to pay.

"X" marks the spot, as those treasure hunters say.

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