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Jan. 21, 2009, 3:39 p.m.

The end of Google’s print ad effort

It’s not terribly surprising to me that Google has given up on its two-year-old program to funnel print ads to newspapers.  As a newspaper publisher, I provided pre-alpha feedback to Google on this program in 2006, and was involved in it from its earliest rollout until I left the business last spring.

No paper that I know of saw anything more than a trickle of advertising through this channel.  Google won’t say how much business Print Ads did.  But Google probably anticipated plenty of volume, so it built in only a small commission for itself.  My guestimation is that their cut came to $1 million or less — probably not enough to cover costs, and certainly a figure with not enough zeros to keep it going as part of Google.  I would not read this as Google giving up on newspapers — in better times, they killed programs with similarly minimal revenue, such as Google Answers.

Among the program’s flaws was the bidding system incorporated in it. Not only did this require a potential managerial decision for each individual ad, but it involved some back-and-forth dickering for every ad.  Most of the very few offers that came through this channel were extremely low-ball ad proposals from sometimes questionable advertisers.

Meanwhile, Google has introduced Google Ad Planner, still in beta rollout, a tool for creating online advertising plans that incorporates the ability to find and select sites based on demographics — a feature that was entirely absent from Print Ads.

POSTED     Jan. 21, 2009, 3:39 p.m.
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