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.
Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.