Google is launching what it is calling an “alpha” program in which 100 advertisers, both large and small, will have an opportunity to buy ads of all sizes (not classifieds, but ROP) in over 50 US major metro daily print newspapers (not online). Combined, the participating dailies have more 15 million print circulation. Publishers participating include Gannett, Washington Post, NY Times (also, Boston Globe), Chicago Tribune and the Seattle PI among others.
The advertisers selected to participate were those who “don’t do a lot of print advertising now,” according to Tom Phillips, Google’s new director of print advertising. He also pointed out ways that Google had taken pains to avoid potential “channel conflict” (advertisers buying direct from Google vs. the papers):
- Newspapers control the inventory they provide to the system
- They have the power to veto any ad
- There are no guaranteed placements or fixed positions
Again, publishers will be able to hold back and directly sell any inventory they want to retain full control over. Accordingly, Phillips said Google was “building the system to complement the system that the newspapers currently offer.”
The “alpha” is expected to run through January. Becoming a multi-platform seller of advertising is part of Google’s long-term ambitions and includes print, radio and video, as well as its core Internet products.
I’ll have more discussion and thoughts later.
Here’s more from the NY Times and BusinessWeek. Here’s the WSJ (sub req’d) with some interesting discussion of geotargeting via newspapers, in the new Google program, but using newspapers as an alternative to Google:
Google had more than 400,000 advertisers that bought online ads using its system, according to an internal company document from last year. Advertisers such as eBags.com, which is participating in Google’s latest test, typify what many newspapers hope to reach. The Denver specialist online retailer spends more than $10 million on marketing annually but practically none of it on print. Peter Cobb, co-founder of eBags.com, said he is attracted by possibly targeting specific groups of consumers through newspapers and tailoring ads for cities where certain types of bags or luggage are more popular.
At the same time, eBags.com has seen the cost of Web advertising through Google — which is priced via competitive auction — triple or quadruple in some cases amid big increases in online ad spending by rival retailers. “Costs are going up online, efficiencies are decreasing — we’re looking for other opportunities,” Mr. Cobb said.