5,000 years ago when I was first introduced to online maps, the provider I used had these little location ads from Jiffy Lube and Holiday Inn festooned across its visuals.
It seemed like a pretty good idea for franchise networks and distributed businesses to me, so I was happy to see that an outfit called Lat49 appears to have reinvented the concept, enabling businesses to choose geographies and feature ads whenever consumers ask to see a map of that area.
An advertiser picks a geography at one of four levels -- the bigger the region, the higher the price. Then s/he has exclusivity in that region for the life of their campaign. So, for example, you can be very local, or a neighborhood level, or a city level, or a regional level. From there you select an ad size and level of functionality, ranging from small text only to Flash. Ads open and can be clicked to visit web sites or landing pages. Finally, you choose an ad duration and you are ready to go. Advertisers pay per impression, which I think is good for both advertiser and publisher.
The ability to choose ad types, geography, and duration through a self serve interface -- these are all great improvements on the original concept and make this ad product relevant for the tiniest Mom and Pop or a regional or national company.
The distribution model of Lat49 is also powerful I think, because so many advertisers simply link by default to Google maps without any form of compensation. If they replace their mapping destination to Lat 49, they can earn revenue through a new money stream on evergreen inventory.
I was talking with someone about this idea who felt that GPS made the concept moot. I disagree. I think before you know what to type into that Magellan on your dash, you need to know where you're going. And platforms like Lat 49 give consumers and advertisers a powerful way to connect.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to write.