Google filed a patent application in December that hints at its plans to place contextual advertising on billboard displays.
The application for a "network of electronic display devices" covers a technology that would let local stores tie their stock-control computers to a Google-powered ad network. If a store does not have an item in stock, that item is removed from the display.
The filing reads in part: "Advertisers may upload advertisement messages to a server specifying information such as budget, price per impression, preferred billboards and/or other constraints. One or more keywords or other descriptors are specified for each advertisement message."
Sounds like an absolutely great idea. My only concern is that advertisers often want to advertise major products that aren't in stock--such as the PS3 or other new gadget. No doubt Google can take those needs into account.
The patent is credited to Shumeet Baluja, a senior staff research assistant at Google and former CTO of Jamdat.