At Google they try to think of everything.
The principle behind this is that if they think of everything, there's a chance they can then own everything and make money out of everything.
The latest attempt is a patent for an ad service that would offer a free taxi to take you to the door of the retailer whose fine wares you've just seen advertised online.
I am grateful to TechCrunch for noticing this patent. It has the moving title of "Transportation-aware physical advertising conversions."
Naturally, it's all about convenience and profit.
The patent abstract declares: "The invention involves automatically comparing the cost of transportation and the potential profit from a completed transaction using a number of real-time calculations."
There are very few companies that enjoy real-time calculations as much as Google. And you can grasp the logic here. If someone's searching for cars to buy, then serving an ad that offers them a taxi to speed them to the point of purchase is a very cost-effective notion.
If they're searching, however, for dental floss, then it might not be worth the advertiser's time and money to offer them a ride in a Prius.
Google describes like so the depth of calculation involved:
The calculation may consider various factors including a consumer's current location, the consumer's most likely route and form of transportation (such as train, personal car, taxi, rental car, or shared vehicle), the consumer's daily agenda, the price competing advertisers are willing to pay for the customer to be delivered to alternate locations, and other costs. In this regard, the customer's obstacles to entering a business location are reduced while routing and cost calculations are automatically handled based on the demand for the advertiser's goods and potential profit margins.
Some might imagine that the inducement of a free ride won't move many. They'll suggest that the real value of that ride will be insignificant when compared with the potential spend on the purchase.
But retailers have to try many things to get people into physical stores these days. Look how Abercrombie and Fitch uses fetching young bodies to fetch people into their establishments.
Human beings are maddeningly irrational sorts. They can be seduced by 10 percent off very little in order to buy things they never needed in the first place.
They can be persuaded by coupons, direct mail, and even pretty faces to part with their money.
It's not the real bargain that matters so much. It's the feeling that you got a bargain.
So the notion that the advertiser will respect your business so much that he'll even send a car to pick you up isn't entirely daft.
We're the daft ones for being tempted.