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Google's DoubleClick billboards bring web ads to the streets of London

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Google has taken its DoubleClick online advertising from the internet to the streets of London. The company started testing the technology, which automatically chooses and provides ads on millions of websites, on billboards at multiple locations in the English capital. The DoubleClick technology uses data collected in real-time — including weather, audience, travel information, and local events — to select which ads to run, when they should be shown, and which billboards to play them on. The billboards, which started showing the DoubleClick ads in October, are placed in some of London's most highly trafficked areas, including Waterloo Station and Euston Road.

Ads are affected by the weather, travel information, and sports scores

Other advertising companies have tested similar technology in out-of-home settings, but this trial is particularly noteworthy for the huge web reach of DoubleClick, seen as the de facto way to serve ads online. DoubleClick's Tim Coller told Business Insider there was a "common misconception" that merging web and out-of-home ad industries was straightforward, but that the trial was designed to show the companies involved what they'd need to change in order to make it easier to combine the two. Coller also said it gave DoubleClick the chance to see if using real-time events such as sports scores would impact advertising, and to target ads at audiences it believed would be seeing the billboard at certain times.

The technology could mean Google will one day able to hit you when you're out and about with ads as creepily accurate as those you see in your web browser, but Google says it isn't ready to make the outside world reflect the digital one just yet — the company says that the DoubleClick trial is just a "proof of concept" at the moment.