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by Mike Zazaian September 13, 2006 - 12:56pm, No Comments

Google Earth Gets Ad-ified

Google’s popular satellite imaging software gets an interesting facelift with new “Featured Content” from sponsors.

Google has chosen to expand the popular its popular Earth exploration application to include advertisement icons littered sporadically throughout the virtual landscape. New content in Google Earth will includes photos, text blurbs and videos placed at various locations that users can access by clicking icons placed at specific points around the globe. While initially I was taken aback that Google would allow such advertising to sully what was previously an immaculate Earth experience, at second glance everything seems to be in line with Google’s people-first attitude.

Featured Content BoxFirst and most importantly, users are able to turn the Featured content on and off. If a user doesn’t want to see the ads and video clips they can click an uncheck a box in the Layers menu and it all goes away. That being said, featured content will actually prove to be a very useful part of the program and is all relevant to the Exploration of the world, albiet in varying degrees.

Google Featured Content

Google has sold a great deal of ad space to busineses such as Turnhere.com, a website that features short videos about geographic locations. While this is clearly a commercial venture on behalf of both parties, Turnhere.com’s content is relevant to the software’s purpose of Earth exploration. Other content from organizations such as National Geographic, the Jane Goodall Institute, and the US National Park Service highlights various landmarks and monuments, and integrates more seamlessly into the Google Earth interface. And while the Turnhere.com ads might not be quite so informative as National Geographic, there’s nothing along the lines of “Dude, you’re gettin’ a Dell” ad anywhere to be seen.

Google’s done a good job of integrating this new content, and keeping with the “pure Earth” theme that they’ve achieved with it. As long as they ensure that future content stays along these lines, Featured Content in Google Earth will develop into one of the star features of the software.

[via ars technica]