Google Patent 13/939884

Google Patent 20140379696: They’re Watching You

Google Patent 13/939884

Getting to write the first of Beanstalk’s blog posts for 2015 I decided to take a peek through some of their recent patents.  For our regular readers, you’ll know that I’m a fan of patents.  Reading them can be a bit of a nightmare (though they will help you sleep) but some of the information you can glean from them in regards to pointing us in the direction of what a company (Google in this case) is looking at doing (or perhaps just looking to make sure others don’t) can be enormously valuable.

While Google has applied for a number of patents lately the one that caught my eye was patent application number 20140379696, “Personal Search Result Identifying A Physical Location Previously Interacted With By A User”.

Here’s the abstract:

“Methods and apparatus for generating, in response to a search query of a user, a personal search result that identifies a physical location previously interacted with by the user, such as a physical location previously visited by the user. Some implementations are directed to methods and apparatus for determining whether a search query is a personal locational query indicating a desire for information related to one or more physical locations previously interacted with by the user. Some implementations are directed to methods and apparatus for determining search parameters for such a personal locational query. Some implementations are directed to methods and apparatus for searching private content of the user to determine physical locations previously interacted with by the user that are responsive to such a personal locational query. Some implementations are directed to methods and apparatus for generating personal search results that identify determined physical locations previously interacted with by the user.”

What this patent is effectively about if you read the rest on the US Patent & Trademark Office site is pretty much an extension of what you’d get from the abstract; that Google wants to track not just where you are now but further, augment search results (read: ad results) based on where you have been in the past.  While the patent itself covers general geographic areas it’s clear their intent when it’s written, “wherein the personal locational semantic segments include at least one of a location entity category segment, an action type segment, a reference geographic area segment, a temporal segment, and a business location identifier segment. ”

While the business location is the key to it’s marketing applications, something I found interesting from this line itself is the mention of temporal segment, the idea here being that not just where you were is important but when you were there (and perhaps how long).  I am assuming this is to account not just for events (a concert for example) but also grasping a behavioral understanding thus answering questions like, “Does Dave head to the local watering hole during hockey games?”  Understanding patterns like this and advertising based on such patterns could provide massive targeting enhancements for those of us in marketing.  So while I selected an image to accompany this post that grasps my feelings as a user (i.e. I already know they can track me as I carry around an Android phone but it’s creepy to be reminded) the fact is that as a marketer I love it.

Imagine I work for a pub, the idea behind this patent would make it possible for me to target ads at folks in my area who, while they may never have been to my pub, tend to go to them during hockey games.  Target them with ads talking about drink deals, half priced wings and your 187 large screen TVs and you’ve got a recipe for success.  The same can be said for many sectors and niches.

It’s a brave new word my friends.  If you’re willing to ignore the fact that you have no privacy left you can enjoy the fact that you’re marketing to people who also have lost theirs.

1 Comment

  1. Terrance says:

    I truly believe where living in a age where all of our constitutional rights are being stripped from us slowly. Every move we make is being tracked by the NSA,Google and other big corporations. Great article but I think personal information should not be patent.