Google has opened up its Print Ads program to all AdWord customers, giving them the ability to purchase ads in approximately 225 U.S.-based newspapers.
Google first represented ads in magazines in 2005, but its Print Ads initiative officially began only last November. That’s when the company allowed a small group of advertisers to purchase offline ad space with 50 newspaper publishers, including Freedom Communications, Hearst Newspapers, Gatehouse, Gannett, MediaNews Group, New York Times Company, Scripps and The Seattle Times Company. Since that time, Google has increased the number of participating newspapers, upgraded its billing system and is now making the program available to all AdWords users as a tab available through the AdWords system.
“As part of the functionality, [users] will be able to have a very similar experience to the AdWords experience,” said Smita Hashim, group product manager for Google print advertising. “They will be able to search for newspapers… be able to select sections of the newspaper and days of the week that they would like the ad to be in.”
Google hopes online advertisers will embrace offline advertising as a way to lend legitimacy to their online businesses while increasing ad response rates. “Newspaper is really an excellent way to validate a business that may have been built online,” said Spencer Spinnell, head of sales strategy for Google print advertising.
For example, Covad, a provider of T1 Internet connection services and one of the initial testers of the Print Ads system, saw a marked increase in ad response rates for specific geographies where it ran online and offline newspaper ads, he said.
“They saw a roughly 20 percent increase in the quality of leads and in sales, as compared to control markets where they didn’t run newspaper ads,” said Spinnell. “Online plus print actually gives a multiplier effect to a marketer’s bottom line.” Certain other advertisers haven’t seen the same glowing results.
Those offline advertising efforts have been closely watched by rival Yahoo, which also has put much effort into courting newspaper publishers. Yahoo’s newspaper consortium includes Google partner Hearst and others, including Belo, Cox Enterprises, E. W. Scripps, the Journal Register Company, Lee Enterprises, and Cox Enterprises.
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