In newspaper boardrooms across the United States, the news that Google wants to get into the print advertising business is probably causing a mix of emotions — a combination of those old favourites, fear and greed. Fear because newspapers are afraid that Google might somehow make it even less profitable to run a paper than it already is, and greed because Google is so ridiculously successful that it’s natural to wonder whether some of that might spill over.

Forgotten by many in their excitement to board the Google party train, however (typical newspaper guy: “Does this mean we all get Segways and free candy?”) is the fact that the search behemoth has already tried this particular strategy once, and more or less… well, failed. Google ran a trial project involving a couple of dozen high-profile magazines, and before too long it became obvious that it just wasn’t working. Google said it was just an experiment, and that it learned a lot.

newspaper

Why didn’t it work? Mike Masnick at Techdirt had a few clues: For one thing, Google doesn’t really bring any kind of competitive edge to the print advertising game the way it does to Internet search-related advertising, where its giant algorithm machine spins a web that drags Internet surfers in like flies and practically forces them to click on ads whether they want to or not. In magazines (and newspapers), there’s no algorithm-powered search, and no search-related ads.

If nothing else, meanwhile, Google’s desire to move into newspaper ads — which it apparently thinks are a better fit than magazines — is yet another signal of its unquenchable thirst for ad inventory of any kind, so that it can keep growing at those triple-digit rates the stock market is so enamoured with. And let’s face it: the newspaper business needs all the help it can get. Although Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 points out that one of the unintended consequences of the Google experiment could be that it only reinforces how disconnected and hard to measure print advertising really is.

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Mathew 2414 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

11 Responses to “Can Google make print work this time?”
  1. on the following: the Society of Editors Conference in Glasgow (see Roy Greenslade, Fleet Street 2.0), at which attending editors and journos are buzzing about the Google print ad test run project (more today on that via Poynter’s Jim Romenesko, Mathew Ingram and BuzzMachine); Gannett’s newsroom convergence (see E-Media Tidbits, Editors Weblog , Editor and Publisher and Wired); and the BBC’s local stations plans to buy content from local and regional newspapers (

  2. Happy 39th Birthday to Me Topix Raises $15M Can Google make print work this time? McDonald’s Next Great Marketing Idea? FLOGS! (… wait, hasn’t Wal-Mart — ) Governor General to attend 50th anniversary celebrations at Queen Elizabeth Public School in Ottawa

  3. […] Mathew Ingram: Can Google make print work this time? “Google’s desire to move into newspaper ads — which it apparently thinks are a better fit than magazines — is yet another signal of its unquenchable thirst for ad inventory of any kind.” (tags: google advertising newspapers) […]

  4. […] “>Can Google make print work this time? I found this page interesting for my readers and added reference to it.In newspaper boardrooms across the United States, the news that Google wants to get into the print advertising business is probably causing a mix of emotions — a combination of those old favourites, fear and greed. Fear because newspapers are afraid that Google might somehow make it even less …I think it’s good. what about you?Link to original article […]

  5. […] Mathew Ingram notes that this isn't the first time Google's tried something like this, concluding with a nod to Scott Karp's points as well: Google’s desire to move into newspaper ads — which it apparently thinks are a better fit than magazines — is yet another signal of its unquenchable thirst for ad inventory of any kind, so that it can keep growing at those triple-digit rates the stock market is so enamoured with. And let’s face it: the newspaper business needs all the help it can get. Although Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 points out that one of the unintended consequences of the Google experiment could be that it only reinforces how disconnected and hard to measure print advertising really is. […]

  6. […] From blogosphere: Good Morning Silicon Valley, Techdirt, The Kelsey Group Blog, PaidContent, CNNMoney.com, Digital Micro-Markets, Mathew Ingram, ReveNews, Mark Evans, Business 2.0 Beta Blogs, Digital Inspiration, HipMojo.com, Google Watch, Search Engine Watch Blog, AttentionMax, Glass House, Google Operating System, ben barren, Romenesko advertising, Google, John Battelle, print, Searchblog, The Boston Globe, The Chicago tribune, The New York Times […]

  7. […] Google to Use “Faerie Magicks” in Tracking New Print Ads November 6th, 2006 at 6:07 pm by Tony Google is once again in the news getting the blogosphere all hot and bothered because of its new Print Ads service which will debut fairly soon in an “alpha” run, to finish in January.  Several reputable newspapers have signed on, such as the New York Times and Washington Post.  The details of the issue have been discussed elsewhere, so I won’t repeat them.  But what’s quite fascinating is the motivation for newspapers to try this grand experiment.  Businessweek writes: One ad executive involved in the test says the opportunity to tap Google’s vaunted advertising measurement capabilities is a major selling point. “The platform has the potential to allow us to better measure and better understand how our print advertising drives Internet traffic,” said Bruce Telkamp, senior vice-president for business development at online health insurance marketer eHealth. […]

  8. […] In newspaper boardrooms across the United States, the news that Google wants to get into the print advertising business is probably causing a mix of emotions – a combination of those old favourites, fear and greed. Fear because newspapers are afraid that Google might somehow make it even less profitable to run a paper than it already is, and greed because Google is so ridiculously successful that it’s natural to wonder whether some of that might spill over. Forgotten by many in their excitement to board the Google party train, however (typical newspaper guy: “Does this mean we all get Segways and free candy?”) is the fact that the search behemoth has already tried this particular strategy once, and more or less… well, failed. Google ran a trial project involving a couple of dozen high-profile magazines, and before too long it became obvious that it just wasn’t working. Google said it was just an experiment, and that it learned a lot. Why didn’t it work? Mike Masnick at Techdirt had a few clues: For one thing, Google doesn’t really bring any kind of competitive edge to the print advertising game the way it does to Internet search-related advertising, where its giant algorithm machine spins a web that drags Internet surfers in like flies and practically forces them to click on ads whether they want to or not. In magazines (and newspapers), there’s no algorithm-powered search, and no search-related ads. If nothing else, meanwhile, Google’s desire to move into newspaper ads – which it apparently thinks are a better fit than magazines – is yet another signal of its unquenchable thirst for ad inventory of any kind, so that it can keep growing at those triple-digit rates the stock market is so enamoured with. And let’s face it: the newspaper business needs all the help it can get. Although Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 points out that one of the unintended consequences of the Google experiment could be that it only reinforces how disconnected and hard to measure print advertising really is. Comments Tag: Google, Advertising Add to Del.icio.us | Digg | Yahoo! My Web | Furl Bookmark WebProNews: View All Articles by Mathew Ingram Receive Our Daily Email of Breaking eBusiness News About the Author: Mathew Ingram [note only one “t” in Mathew] is a technology writer and blogger for the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper based in Toronto, and also writes about the Web and media at http://www.mathewingram.com/work and http://www.mathewingram.com/media. WebProNews RSS Feed More Blog Talk Articles Contact WebProNews […]

  9. […] I missed this one due to an excess of eggnog, but the Washington Post says that Google’s newspaper advertising program — which was launched in November, when I wrote about it here — is going much better than the search engine-cum-advertising company thought it would, and so it is expanding it. […]

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