Stop The Presses, Google Gives Up On Print
Google announced the demise of the service in a blog post by Spencer Spinnell, the director of Print Ads, who wrote: "While we hoped that Print Ads would create a new revenue stream for newspapers and produce more relevant advertising for consumers, the product has not created the impact that we -- or our partners --wanted. As a result, we will stop offering Print Ads on February 28."
According to the same post, advertisers who have campaigns booked with Print Ads will have their contracts honored through March 31st. Over the course of the program, Google Print Ads had experimented with different kinds of direct response, including unique Web URLs and 2D barcodes that could be scanned with a mobile phone camera.
On a valedictory or possibly elegiac note, Spinnell wrote: "We believe fair and accurate journalism and timely news are critical ingredients to a healthy democracy. We remain dedicated to working with publishers to develop new ways for them to earn money, distribute and aggregate content and attract new readers online." Yet "it is clear that the current Print Ads product is not the right solution."
Print Ads was one of several initiatives launched by Google in 2006 that held out hope for traditional media already showing signs of collapse. In the print arena Google experimented with text ads in a number of newspapers, beginning with pioneer newspapers like the Chicago Sun-Times, followed by dozens of other titles looking for new revenue streams as print ads headed south.
With the demise of Print Ads, the next logical victim is Google Audio, which launched with the search giant's acquisition of DMarc, an automated radio ad placement service, in January 2006. In February 2007 Chad and Ryan Steelberg, the founders of DMarc, left Google amid tension over the limited remuneration dMarc could expect under the performance-based terms of its original deal with Google.
There's no way to know how Google Print Ads or Audio actually performed. News about both of these experimental services has been closely guarded by Google.