Google is testing its ad technology on outdoor billboards

Google’s watching.
Google’s watching.
Image: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
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Google’s advertising technology is currently powering outdoor billboards in some of London’s most high-traffic areas.

The search company is testing the automated selling and buying of digital billboard ads using technology from its DoubleClick subsidiary, reports Business Insider. Google purchased the ad space—including billboards in London’s Waterloo Station, Euston Road, and Vauxhall roundabout—and is using its technology to display different billboard ads relevant to passersby, depending on the time and location.

“This test has highlighted a number of areas that are fundamentally different, and which will require further development and integration before this becomes a market reality,” Tim Coller, mobile solutions lead for DoubleClick, told the site.

Google partnered with multiple outdoor advertising companies and creative agencies for its tests, which began this month and will end in November. Some of the challenges Coller highlighted so far include identifying the right engagement metrics and the collection of audience data. Unlike online advertising, it’s harder to quantify the precise impact—such as views and clicks—of more traditional formats, such as print or billboard ads.

While this may only be a proof of concept, extending Google’s technology to outdoor ads could change what advertisers come to expect from the company. Not only can it put ads in front of people when they’re searching on their computers or using their mobile phones, but Google can also reach them when they’re away from their screens.