Last week Google was awarded a patent by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office for an ad-powered 'taxi' service arranging discounted or even free transportation to an advertiser's business location.
A tram to TK Maxx, or a limo to Louis Vuitton?
Advertisers paying for transportation in the hope of prospective sales does not mean everyone will be getting a limo ride or perhaps in the long run, a lift in one of Google's driverless cars, to their desired restaurant, outlet or mall. As part of the ad mechanism Google plans to compare the cost of transportation and balance it with the potential profit. This will be determined by using a number of real-time calculations as well as looking into the buyer's information such as their purchase history, current location, and potential forms of transport and of course, "the price competing advertisers are willing to pay for the customer to be delivered to alternate locations." It is safe to assume that higher-profile customers who are likely to splash out more cash will be offered better treatment whilst others make do with discounted bus tickets or taxi fares.
Google hopes its idea will make it easier for businesses to get customers into stores without having to invest in costly prime locations closer to high-traffic areas, easing a possible significant financial burden upon businesses.
Advertisers would also be able to customise who they want to target, to minimise customers who may not complete transactions once brought to the business place. For example, a theme park may prefer to display their ads to users indicating that they are attending with one or more children in order to boost profits. Or a cinema could package ticket purchases with transport arrangements to avoid users not disclosing the number of passengers.
The whole idea reminds me of the free, 'no pressure' taxi ride I once took to a centre of resort Tunisian carpet shop, when I was on holiday in that country. I would rather have walked. Furthermore with Google's track record of realising patents it's hard to say whether these ads with 'free' transport will ever materialise.