Correction: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is experimenting with new ads on the so-called layers in Google Earth. That means that when users look at photos of a place of interest in the program, for instance, they may see a sponsored message. But a Google spokeswoman emailed today to clarify that this isn’t the first time ads have actually appeared in Google Earth.
The experimention on Google Earth is part of an effort by Google over the past year to try ads in a broader array of its properties, including many that were previously unmonetized, including Google Finance, Google Image Search, and even its “search suggest function”; the company has also lately emphasized geo-targeted advertising on Google Maps. Until now, Google has mainly generated revenue from Google Earth solely by charging some enterprises who use the product.
Digital Inspiration, which first reported on the Google Earth ads, points out that this is Google’s first foray into bringing AdSense ads to the desktop, since Google Earth is desktop software. The tech site also remarks that Google explicitly forbids software developers from distributing AdSense ads via desktop apps and speculates that this could therefore be the harbinger of change in that policy. That, potentially, could lead to a proliferation of ad-supported free desktop apps.
(Already, arch rival Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has promised to introduce an ad supported basic version of Office that will come pre-loaded on new PCs. It will obviously not use AdSense).
In statement, Google says it is doubling down on the geographically-targeted ad market: “Google Maps and Google Earth create both strategic and indirect revenue effects for Google. We continue to look for ways to expand revenue potential for both, including placing display text ads in Google Maps. We think geographically-targeted ads benefit people and create value for advertisers and are looking at ways to do that.”