Every year, businesses spend billions of dollars on advertising, often with the goal of getting consumers to their locations to purchase goods or services. While ads can certainly be an effective means of getting people out of their chairs and into their cars, wouldn't it just be easier if the business picked you up? That's exactly what Google has in mind.

Google "Getting a potential customer to a business location in order to conduct a sale may be one of the most difficult tasks for a business or advertiser," states the recently-awarded patent for the Google's latest advertising algorithm. Titled "Transportation-aware physical advertising conversions," the patent was filed in 2011 and approved just last week.

This algorithm "relates generally to arranging for free or discounted transportation to an advertiser's business location," according to the patent. By using the algorithm, businesses can ensure "the customer's obstacles to entering a business location are reduced," thus giving the customer more of an incentive to frequent the business.

The algorithm uses customer data to determine the potential value of customer to the business; i.e., how far away they are from a location, spending behavior and current means of transportation. Google would combine this information with its already well-developed knowledge of transportation in order to coordinate the most fiscally efficient way to transport the customer to the business. This free or low-cost travel option would then be presented to the user as part of a local, targeted ad.

Here's the kicker: The inventors (Luis Ricardo Prada Gomez, Andrew Timothy Szybalski, Sebastian Thrun, Philip Nemec, Christopher Paul Urmson), "are also responsible for many of Google's driverless car patents," according to TechCrunch.

Does that mean that we'll soon see driverless cars picking up customers to shop at stores, all while Amazon drones buzz through the air delivering our packages within an hour? Who knows? Right now it is only the algorithm that Google has patented, but it wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine.

[Source: Google via TechCrunch]

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