Back in December, the location-based service Brightkite rolled out a new layer to its Augmented Reality (AR) view: ads. At the time, these were Google ads that showed up in a “relatively unobtrusive” way, as ReadWriteWeb put it. Now, those ads are getting more obtrusive because some big brands are on board.
Brightkite has been working with both Starbucks and McDonalds to bring more effective AR ads to reality (pun intended). Rather than showing a Google ad at the bottom of the Brightkite view screen when you see a circle in AR view, there are now giant logos for the brands in the AR view itself. For example, see the Starbucks VIA logo in the image in this post. As you can see, when you’re near a retailer than carries VIA, the logo will appear on the screen. Clicking on the logo will give you more info below that including links and videos that you can play inline.
Brightkite has been working with McDonalds on this advertising technology as well, and the fast food giant showed it off at their internal conference recently.
I’m still of the mindset that AR is a bit away from practical use (though it is awesome for some games). But products like Google Street View are pushing it closer to the mainstream. The question is: is it a good idea to try and monetize AR before it really even takes off? I’m not sure I’d be thrilled about using the technology if I’m just going to see ads in my face. Well, unless they look like they do in Minority Report.