Google awarded location-based advertising patent

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Google awarded location-based advertising patent

Decision likely to affect Apple and telecoms players.

Google has been granted a patent for the use of location information in adverts to increase the relevancy to users, a decision which could directly impact the plans of rival Apple in the space.

"The usefulness, and consequently the performance, of advertisements are improved by allowing businesses to better target their ads to a responsive audience," said part of the patent abstract, which has now been approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Andrew Frank, research vice president at Gartner, said that the awarding of the patent could affect start-ups that use location-based adverts as a vital source of revenue.

Frank also believes that the patent could threaten Apple in its attempt to enter the location-based advertising market, as well as telecoms providers such as Orange and Vodafone.

Apple recently demonstrated its seriousness about entering the market with the acquisition of Quattro Wireless in January, which competed with Google's purchase of Admob last year.

Apple has also started rejecting location-based applications for the iPhone in order to increase its own hold over the market, Frank suggested.

"If Google decided to pursue this aggressively, it could have a chilling effect on the start-up industry," he warned.

"But my guess is that it will be more a sign of Google's rolling competitiveness with Apple that it is attempting to attack start-ups. Google will want to maintain a balance of power with Apple in the chief advertising market.

"This was not Google's original intention because the patent was filed six years ago, but it is definitely one of the implications of the patent being awarded today. It is not Apple's style to create a fuss, so they are not likely to say anything about it."

Frank added that telecoms carriers are also likely to be affected because they have long had designs on the location-based advertising market.

"I believe this will complicate their position," he said. "They may even be more of an interesting target than Apple."

Facebook caused a stir last week when it was awarded a patent for its news feed. Lawyers argued that the decision could hamper the social media market.

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