Hearst-Argyle, Google Partner To Lure Local Advertisers With AdWords

Once again trying to diversify revenue streams as the local station business faces an uncertain future, Hearst-Argyle has broken ground in the digital arena. The station operator has a deal with Google where it will use its connections and manpower in markets it serves to try and sign up local businesses to use Google's AdWords option.

The move could work both ways, giving Google a greater pool of local advertisers, while H-A gains an opportunity to benefit from the mushrooming local search advertising arena.

On one level, the deal takes H-A far afield from its core business of selling spots on its 29 stations. Yet, synergies come as its sales force can now offer, say, a local auto dealer or retailer access to arguably one of the most efficient online marketing options--along with the on-air spots, a presence on station Web sites and exposure elsewhere.

Details of the H-A agreement with Google were not released.

AdWords looks to display relevant ads alongside results as a user runs a search on Google. A business can bid on a keyword linked to their operations, and pay only when an ad is clicked on.



H-A has been aggressive in expanding beyond the TV screen by attempting to build robust Web sites affiliated with its stations, cutting a separate revenue-sharing agreement with Google's YouTube and through other initiatives. Still, digital revenues make up only a fraction of its overall take--even as some contend that advertisers will increasingly shift spending off local stations.

"This is a terrific partnership to expand the digital suite of solutions we provide our advertisers," said Terry Mackin, H-A executive vice president. "This entry point to the local search market complements our existing digital media efforts which include local content, social networking and being a primary destination in all our markets on 'all three screens'."

Eric Stein, director of local markets at Google, said: "Now, local marketers will also have access to an additionally efficient and cost-effective way to reach customers on the Internet and help drive their continued success online."

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