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Billboards are out, but Google wants in

Deanna Singhal, research associate at the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, a driving safety group in Ottawa, believes that not only do digital billboards keep drivers' eyes away from the road more, but that they are also more "cognitively demanding." A study commissioned by the Federal Highway Administration has recommended more research into whether the signs present risks to drivers, and the federal government has also allotted $150,000 for a study of digital signage.

Meanwhile, in Scottsdale, Arizona, billboards are on the verge of extinction. According to an article by Casey Newton in The Arizona Republic ,2006 saw the removal of the second-to-last billboard in the entire city. The last billboard in Scottsdale now sits on a narrow strip of land separating the entrance of a strip mall from a Denny's parking lot, and "the city is one redevelopment away from being rid of billboards for good."

"We're always looking for that opportunity to take care of the final sign," Mayor Mary Manross told The Arizona Republic . "If there is an effort in the future to redevelop that property or the land around it, that would be a time where we might possibly be able to include elimination of that sign within a development agreement. I hope to have that opportunity. The community would certainly appreciate it, I'm sure."

Scottsdale declared war on large signs in 1969 when it passed an ordinance that banned new billboards. The ordinance, one the first of its kind, was among the toughest in the nation. It was designed to preserve views of the McDowell Mountains and to differentiate Scottsdale from other Valley cities, especially Phoenix, where the roadways were cluttered with signs. In 1973, residents voted to amend Scottsdale's charter to empower city officials to condemn existing billboards without compensating the owners.

As harsh as that sounds, Google still wants in on the billboard biz. The mega-company has reportedly filed for a patent that will allow them to build kiosk-type billboards that would be connected to the internet, according to a report by Trendhunter. http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/google-billboards-google-plans-street-advertising-presence/

One use for such billboards would be to allow local stores to advertise products that are currently in stock. Advertisers will be able to purchase space on the billboards by logging into a system online.

In the patent application itself, Google wrote that its technology could eliminate the need for the manual loading of looped ads. Merchants could create campaigns for available goods and services, the ads would be displayed in rotation, and could be shut off automatically when a product is sold out.

http://techeffect.thedealblogs.com/2006/11/google_sets_sights_on_traditio.php