Google has filed a patent application for something called "Google Automat," a service that could tie into the Google Base database service and "Google Purchases" (formerly "Google Wallet") online payment system, said Classified Intelligence, which helps media companies and others develop classified-advertising services.
Last month,, Google Base, that would let people post and make searchable any type of content. A sample page listed as examples party planning services, current events and used car listings.
"Google is seeking to patent a Web advertising placement system tentatively known as 'Google Automat' that could directly impact the $100 billion annual global classified-advertising business," Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based Classified Intelligence said in a statement.
"It's crystal clear Google is planning for an all-out move into classified advertising," said Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of Classified Intelligence.
In its patent applications, Google used the "classifieds.google.com" Web address, Classified Intelligence said.
Google, which tends to keep its future services and strategies close to the vest, released a statement via e-mail that contained no specifics:
"Like many companies, we file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees may come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not be inferred from our patent applications."
On his Buzz Machine blog, Jeff Jarvis wonders whether Google will open up the database to other search engines.
"So if I create a job ad using whatever Google calls its geegaw, can Indeed find it? If I create, say, a restaurant listing and tag it as Mexican/New Jersey (something that's too rare, by the way), will Technorati pick up the tags and IceRocket the text?" Jarvis wrote.
Stephen Arnold, author of "The Google Legacy," speculated that Google is building a large "content intake system" that will let people search for all kinds of information and will have e-commerce and targeted advertising built in.
"This fits into the mosaic of letting users input data (and) tie it into the same financial back end that does the AdWords and AdSense" systems, he said. "One manifestation of this is classifieds. Another manifestation is yellow pages."