Google Rumor Puts Data At Center Of Outdoor Ad Space In Germany

Google reportedly plans to expand an outdoor advertising business in Germany using a programmatic ad-buying process and lots of data. The digital screens are in public spaces such as train stations, shopping malls and retail stores. In Germany there are more than 110,000 of these screens.

The search giant initially experimented with billboard advertising in the U.S. back in 2015 using DoubleClick. The idea centered on targeting the most relevant ads to consumers passing by the screen based on the time of day and location. The Google Brand Studio & Media Lab conducted the outdoor advertising experiment where they promoted the Google brand in a number of outdoor billboards throughout London.

The ads in the experiment were served through DoubleClick but not through a programmatic auction. The programmatic part of the campaign helped in that Google was able to switch the ad creative based on things like time of day or weather in a general location. There was no targeting or measurement using Google audience data as part of that experiment and it's not something Google pursued further. 

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The latest twist is "all rumor and speculation," per a Google spokesperson, adding that "this isn't a product offering."

Maybe, but the German weekly business news publication WirtschaftsWoche reports talking with Google Manager Mark Grady, who told the publisher that these ads, if implemented, would give the German outdoor advertising landscape more "control" with a “push of a button.” Graddy, per WirtschaftsWoche, used the analogy while at a model show at the Hamburg Airport, where visitors experience the airport in a miniature format including planes that take off and buses that stop in front of the terminals. It can all happens with a "push of a button” similar to the small-scale airport at the show.

The WirtschaftsWoche reports that Google continues to look for companies with ties to outdoor platform in which it can integrate its technology and data to target ads.

The media site also reported that in April 2018, a Google manager presented the idea to agencies and media companies to determine whether the idea seemed feasible and possible to leverage Google's enterprise software, Chrome Enterprise, which would provide a way to market out-of-home advertising. 

Without explicit permission by the phone owner, using location data could land Google in trouble across Europe by not adhering to GDPR standards. Citing the Associate Press, Bloomberg reports that while Google asks permission for users to share location information on its applications, it doesn’t halt tracking services when users pause Location History.

Google Maps appears to grab information when a user opens the app. For instance, automatic daily weather updates on Android phones provides an approximate location. Computer-science researchers at Princeton University confirmed the Associated Press’s findings, reports Bloomberg.

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