Google Extends Print Run

  |  November 7, 2006   |  Comments

The company stresses newspaper direct sales are not at risk.

In what it’s calling its first actual product release in the print arena, Google has begun testing an online marketplace to allow advertisers to place ads in print newspapers.

The system is similar to other Internet-based pricing models in that potential advertisers will set a price they are willing to pay for differing sizes of ads, while the newspapers will decide when and if there is space, according to Tom Phillips, director of print ads for Google.

“It’s adopting some of the name-your-own price model and adapting it for this marketplace,” says Phillips. “This system has more opportunities, turns the old model on its ear, and that’s appropriate for a new set of marketers. Instead of a model where the publishers set the price and the advertisers set the parameters... now the advertisers set the price and the publisher sets the timetable.”

Google has lined up just over 50 traditional newspapers and paper publishers to participate in what it’s calling an “alpha” release of the system, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett, The Seattle Times, The Philadelphia Enquirer, and The McClatchy Company. As of this week they are accepting bids from potential advertisers, but the company has no set date for a final release of the system, says Phillips.

“This is the first product that we’ve released. It’s an alpha product, but it’s the first time releasing a product. [But] it’s not complete, we’re going to learn from testing this,” he said. “The learning we do in this alpha will dictate when it’s released.”

Eventually the company intends to incorporate thousands of newspapers and advertisers, but believes a new model of selling advertisements online will not threaten the standard model of buying and selling newspaper ad space.

“The old model is still a viable model for the best and biggest advertising clients at the newspaper and it won’t change. It says I want guaranteed placement and the full page ad in a particular place in the paper,” says Phillips. “It’s the notion that we’re changing the whole model of buying, not to the exclusion of the old model, but making print media accessible to new advertisers. At the risk of narrowing too much, it’s appropriate for a Google type of online advertiser.”

The newspaper test extends a strategy Google began last year with the representation of ads in a number of magazines, including Hachette Filipacchi titles like Car and Driver and Ellegirl and Future Publishing titles like Pregnancy and Women's Health and Fitness.

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