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Google & Yahoo : The Saviors of Newspapers

Google has officially expanded its newspaper print advertising program to 225 newspapers, offering advertisers a potential $1,000 financial incentive to try the newspaper program (click to enlarge):

Google Print Signup

From the press release:

The program started in November 2006 with a test that included 50 newspapers and a small group of advertisers. Since then the program has grown to more than 225 newspapers representing 32 of the top 35 DMAs and a combined circulation of almost 30 million. Participating newspaper publishers include E.W. Scripps, Freedom Communications, Hearst Newspapers, GateHouse Media, Gannett, MediaNews Group, The New York Times, The Seattle Times Company, Tribune Publishing, and Washington Post among others. In addition, Google Print Ads is now available to hundreds of thousands of United States-based advertisers who currently have a Google AdWords account.

The program, so far, has been a modest success according to anecdotal information and various advertiser and newspaper publisher accounts:

Newspaper publishers including Hearst Corp., The New York Times Co. and E.W. Scripps Co., cautiously optimistic about early results, have increased the number of daily newspapers involved in the test to 225.

“We did see some new advertisers come in through the original test,” said Gannett Co. spokeswoman Tara Connell. “Now we really need to see whether there really, really are advertisers (who are) going to jump in here and bring us new business.”

Google has been careful in structuring up the program to give newspapers significant control and veto power and convince them it’s not a Trojan Horse to steal their advertisers. Program director Tom Phillips, whom I spoke with some time ago, was mindful about these issues and refreshingly candid about the fact that there is a good deal of sensitivity here. Indeed, the way the program is set up, Google has ironically positioned itself as a sales channel for newspapers to gain access to a new markets: the Google advertiser base!

In its presentation of Print Ads, Google emerges as a cheerleader for the value of print newspaper advertising:

Google Print

Newspapers have been ambivalent to openly hostile (lawsuits) about Google News. And many in the newspaper industry have seen Google news and Yahoo! News, among other aggregators, as diminishing the value of their brands and turning news into something of a “commodity.”

But now Google and Yahoo — which touted its expanding newspaper consortium in the earnings call yesterday — are coming to the aid of these traditional publishers and setting themselves up as sales channels to deliver new advertisers and revenue streams. I find it ironic and incredibly fascinating.

What’s especially ironic — given that newspapers would view this attitude with horror if it were coming from Google — is the way that they are hoping to capture direct relationships with some of Google’s advertisers:

Newspapers will continue to work with longtime advertisers directly, rather than funnel them through the Google program. [The Seattle Times’] Chan said she also hopes to establish that more traditional relationship with the new crop of advertisers.

“We’re here to offer them much more than a self-service model,” she said.

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Google & Yahoo : The Saviors of Newspapers

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