Microsoft Launches Virtual Earth with Billboards

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Microsoft launched Virtual Earth, an online 3D application that's part of the company's mapping site, and the first 15 cities shown in their full three-dimensional glory are peppered with billboards. The maps are displayed in the browser unlike its stand-alone Google Earth competitor, but you do need an Internet Explorer (no Firefox), a couple of hefty plug-ins, .NET 2.0, and a fairly powerful computer. Apparently, the floating billboards that look a lot like what you'd see in Second Life, are served through the Massive technology Microsoft acquired in May.

ClickZ writes: "Launch advertisers include Fox's theatrical division, Zip Realty, Nissan, and John L. Scott. The experience is the culmination of technologies from Virtual Earth, Microsoft's Massive in-game ad division and its Digital Advertising Solutions' platform."

The ads are flat (that is, you don't see much if you are viewing them sidewise) and clickable. A click opens a new browser window with the advertiser's website.

CNet has more details about the project: "Microsoft also is opening up the application programming interface for Virtual Earth 3D to allow developers to build the search features into their own applications and Web sites."

Here are some pictures of 3-D Boston:

An ad for Zip Realty. You'll find the same one in Seattle, with Seattle's name on it.

A dramatic vista that looks like a computer game.

Very nice texturing work. That's Trinity Church on Copley Sq. (compare to real photographs) and the Hancock Tower. If you look closely, you'll see me on the 41st floor waving at the satellite.

Also, read these earlier posts:
Google Earth Becoming Virtual World
Google Earth Runs AdWords
Google Earth Compatible With Other 3D Environments
Google Earth Becoming Advertising Tool
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