Chewing on the Shuttering of Google Print Ads

As you know, Google has shut down its Print Ads program:

The program topped out at about 800 publisher partners. The not-so-subtle subtext of the blog post announcing the shut down earlier this week suggested that there wasn’t enough revenue for Google and the newspapers to justify continuation of the effort during a time of recession and cost cutting: 

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. For advertisers who have campaigns already booked, we will place their ads through March 31.

The NY Times asserts that most of the inventory bought and sold through the program was the equivalent of online “remnant” inventory sold at below market rates:

But many newspapers used the program primarily for selling small amounts of ad space they could not sell themselves, newspaper publishers and industry analysts said. The ads were often sold at below-market rates.

When I heard this, I immediately thought that Google was reassessing it’s traditional media programs across the board and that Radio/Audio Ads might be the next to go . . . and then maybe TV, although the TV Ads program is too young and too promising to be discontinued now. However, in an email, Google told me there was nothing about the decision to stop Print Ads that should imply Audio and/or TV are next in line. The company said it remained committed to those programs. 

While TV holds great promise, Audio Ads may have a limited upside or may be underperforming like Print Ads appeared to. I don’t have any real numbers to go by however.

I don’t think that Google is turning its back on newspapers or suggesting that print newspaper advertising is dead. Google actually spent money trying to generate data and cases to show that newspaper advertising is effective. Yet at a “visceral” level, it’s difficult not to see this something of an indictment of traditional newspaper advertising at this dismal time for print. 

Yahoo, by contrast, is much more deeply tied into newspapers and we’re not likely to see them uncouple from newspapers at any point in the near future — partly because Yahoo!’s deals are about online substantially. The company sees local newspapers as a strategic sales channel and source of local advertisers. There’s also technology integration with the Yahoo! APT platform that would make “walking away” a difficult and painful decision.

One Response to “Chewing on the Shuttering of Google Print Ads”

  1. Tim Cohn Says:

    After reading their comments in the WSJ, I realized any media who’s ads can be digitized and distributed electronically will always find a distribution channel for them @ Google.

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