At last, Google has some parasites

Canadian car rental company AutoShare and indie band the Editors both find inspired ways to use Street View to advertise themselves.

Some, perhaps including Rupert Murdoch, might find this story uplifting.

While there has been much recent bellowing, whining, and general cat-on-heat griping about Google making money from the fine work of others, now I can report that some are finding ways to make money piggybacking on the broad spine of Google's engineering.

Two enterprising entities, different in their form but united in their purpose, have attempted to use Google's Street View as a medium for their own commercial messages.

First, there was car rental company AutoShare, the Canadian equivalent Zipcar in the U.S. You know, the folks who are always reserving spots in your favorite parking lot. Well, AutoShare thought it would be fun to ask its customers to look out for its cars on Street View and offer a limited number of them prizes for their vision.

AutoShare

The prize wasn't much: 100 strong Canadian dollars. But with some astute ad targeting in locations such as Facebook and Google, their "In-The-Wild" promotion seems to have entertained the world-weary citizens of Toronto.

Indeed, the AutoShare Twitter page shows that people got rather excited about looking for AutoShare's 200 cars on Google's public-spirited cameras.

This enterprising thought process was, perhaps, topped by Editors. Editors is an indie band (don't most bands have to be indie these days?) from the British town of Birmingham, where the people who claim to be my parents say I was born.

To launch their latest album, Editors used a little Flash trickery to hack into Street View, London version, and create their own custom locations where people could enjoy some of their really very fine music and even see some of the band's fans. (Video embedded)

Editors were rather clever in choosing locations that were not normally accessible on Street View.

Recently, I wrote about IKEA's wonderful use of Facebook to launch a store in Malmo, Sweden. And I know some people thought one should point out that this use was not entirely in accordance with Facebook's promotional guidelines.

However, when companies decide that on occasion they'd prefer to use information you thought might be private for commercial gain, when companies ask you to opt out (if they ask you at all) rather than opt in, there are those who might feel that some enterprising uses of, say, Facebook and Google Street View, should be classified as pioneering.

Great commerce, just like great art, sometimes breaks a couple of rules, doesn't it? In fact, Murdoch has done it quite brilliantly on occasion.

 

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