Too lazy to drive yourself to a restaurant? Business owners may soon be able to capitalize on that by luring in diners through Google ads offering free rides and other transportation deals. Last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the search giant a patent for what it's calling "transportation-aware physical advertising conversions." Essentially, the service allows local businesses to advertise offers of free (or discounted) rides to potential diners. (In a Google-run world, they'd probably run via the company's still-in-test-mode autonomous vehicles, though in the real world, vouchers for free taxis or public transportation will suffice.)
The service would use the potential customer's location data and other pre-stored preferences on their devices to determine "personalized" offers: Users who identify they're out with other adults or children will be automatically targeted with suggestions for "romantic" restaurants or "business locations appropriate for families," respectively.
According to TechCrunch, the service would also take into account the amount other advertisers are willing to spend to attract the same customer, with a "bidding system" in place for advertiser competition. But for business owners, the service promises to "compare the [potential customer's] cost of transportation and the potential profit from a completed transaction," meaning a diner can't take a free ride and then only order a soda. (Those who do will receive fewer or no offers in the future.) Not included in the patent application: some kind of designated driver promise for after a restaurant visit is complete.
· Transportation-Aware Physical Advertising Conversions [Google Patents]
· Google Awarded Patent For Free Rides To Advertisers' Locations [TechCrunch]
· All Google Coverage on Eater [-E-]