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From Good Morning Silicon Valley:

Virtual Earth 3D, a new version of the company's mapping application that enables users to "fly" through three-dimensional models of cities using only a Web browser. As satellite-mapping services go, Virtual Earth is a photorealistic step above the grayscale and lifeless environments of Google Earth (note the image of downtown San Francisco shown at left). And it's got advertising to boot. Virtual billboards in the service's digital cityscapes will offer advertisers the chance to target messages at people searching in specific geographic areas. "You can imagine a billboard on SBC Park and you click it and get tickets to the ball game," explained Microsoft General Manager Stephen Lawler. "You can imagine a Nike 'Just Do It' ad on top of Mount Rainier.''

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"It makes this virtual city environment capable of all kinds of advertising," Greg Sterling, of Sterling Market Intelligence, told News.com. "It signals a larger trend of the Internet becoming more of a visually immersive environment. This takes mapping to the next level.

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