Google Extends Newspaper Program
The system, which Google has been testing since November, allows advertisers to bid online for daily newspapers' remnant print ad inventory.
During initial testing with 100 advertisers and 66 newspapers, the volume of ad sales tripled Google's expectations, according to a story first appearing Wednesday in The Washington Post. That report echoed comments made earlier this month, at the UBS global media conference, by James Conaghan, the Newspaper Association of America vice president for business analysis and research. Conaghan told analysts and media at the conference that Google had sold in three weeks all inventory it expected to sell in the program's first three months.
Once the trial period ends in January, participating newspapers and Google will refine the program and determine how to go forward. The roster of newspapers participating in the Google ad experiment includes papers published by Gannett, the Tribune Company, The New York Times Company, the Washington Post Company, and Hearst. The latest addition is the Journal Register Co.'s New Haven Register, which signed on a couple of weeks ago.
Outsourcing excess ad sales to Google is among broader efforts undertaken by newspapers to bolster advertising in the face of increasing competition from Internet properties. In a report issued last week, Borrell Associates Inc. found that online job listings surpassed print newspaper ads in 2006 for the first time by $5.9 billion to $5.4 billion.
In other so-called "frienemy" deals with Internet companies, more than 175 newspapers last month entered into a partnership for Yahoo to power online job ads, while another 45 have struck similar deals with online career site Monster. Unlike those co-branded ventures, however, Google's print ad project is handled all behind the scenes, giving readers no indication the company helped place any ads.
So far, Google has not taken commissions on ad sales, but it plans to do so after the initial test phase. If the print ad program continues to gain traction, it would be the Internet giant's first successful foray into traditional media. Its attempts to sell ads in magazines and on radio to date have not met company expectations.