This Google Map Brought to You by Coke

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-04-26 Print this article Print

Welsh writer and artist David Lloyd, aka the blogger Dio Bach, believes a recent advertising experiment by Maxim Magazine outside of Las Vegas is the first of the new slew of much slicker "ground ads" to come.

Loosely defined, ground ads are advertisements large enough to show up on a satellite map image, like those available at Google, Yahoo et al. Here's one example.

What Maxim did was create a gigantic version of its 100th edition's cover, then instal it (cover-side up of course) on a barren patch of land just outside Las Vegas. Squint hard enough at a Google Earth image of the area, and you'll see it.

There's nothing new to advertisers exploiting an aerial view. But now Google Earth and other online mapping features provide the mechanism to deliver such ads for free, and potentially to a global audience. In a way, what's emerging now is a version of graffiti for the satellite age. Once the publicity and marketing industry takes over, the sky's the limit.

Inspired by Maxim, Lloyd created a Web site called GroundAds, a spoof of a supposedly professional ad agency that'll apply a coat of Madison Avenue slickness to what have been largely amateurish efforts so far.

GroundAds might be fake, but there's a better than decent chance there are already ad agencies specializing in this kind of stuff. It's likely Maxim Magazine needed someone with this kind of expertise to decide the proper latitude and longitude, look and feel. To date, though, Internet marketing expert Jennifer Slegg, known for her Jensense blog, hasn't heard of any agency specializing in ground ads.

Turns out, there are some agencies reportedly placing such ads, but none with the laser-like focus of "GroundAds." Some often-mentioned concerns are ArtField, based somewhere in Germany, and RoofShout. 

History's dotted with spoofs turned real. For example, an April Fools' Day 2005 note from Mobile Ecosystem Managing Director Mark Lowenstein portended Babble, a cell phone made for children as young as 2. A year later, cell phones for adolescents are part of the wireless landscape.

And if there once was an ad agency specializing in tattoo ads, permanent or otherwise, then it stands to reason there are a few GroundAds out there already.

"I hope I can give you a glimpse of the nightmare that awaits," Lloyd wrote of his rationale for creating the spoof site.

And what ills are ahead for those averse to the proliferation of ground ads? Well, GroundAds, the spoof agency, offers a number of attractive packages. For the bargain hunter, a team of graffitists will spray-paint a brand name on a roadway in letters large enough to be seen from space.

Want something more? There are floating man-made reefs for overseas travelers to spot from planes, or the chance to emboss a brand onto a road. GroundAds also pretends to have a kind of affiliate program where people can rent out their rooftops as ad space. |

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