Google Buying Print Ads

NEW YORK Google has begun purchasing magazine ads and reselling portions of that space to advertisers within its search-based advertising network.

Google first bought ad space in Ziff Davis’ PC Magazine as well Maximum PC magazine and has resold portions of this space to smaller advertisers within its keyword network, such as Inksite, and online supplier of printer cartridges and accessories. The print ads are labeled as “Ads by Google.”

According to a Google spokesman Barry Schnitt, the search giant’s foray into print should be considered experimental at this point. “This limited test is part of Google’s continuing effort to develop new ways to provide effective and useful advertising to advertisers, publishers and users,” said Schnitt.

While allowing advertisers to resell its space is hardly business as usual for magazines, executives at PC Magazine were playing up the strong endorsement Google’s interest was giving the magazine and the medium.

“We were excited by the viability of it,” said Jason Young, Ziff Davis’ president of Internet and consumer technology publishing. “One, the statement that Google coming into print makes a statement about the viability of print media. Google coming in as a interactive leader and saying print is important is a fantastic statement.”

Young downplayed the effect that reselling would have on its overall ad sales business, instead focusing on the idea that the new tactic would open up the magazine to new advertisers. “In terms of siphoning pages, this is about classified advertising. They’re one-sixth or one-fifth of a page together with small marketers that we would have never done business with,” he said.

The Google-placed ads will run in PC Magazines’ Sept. 6. and Sept. 20 issues, with more to come later in the year. Young said that other Ziff titles would consider employing this tactic down the road.

Online search experts were not suprised by Google’s move into ink. “Inevitable is my gut reaction,” said Joshua Stylman, managing partner at search marketing firm Reprise Media. “Search marketing works because of the whole relevancy factor. The model is transcendent, and clearly, the model is scalable. It was a matter of time for it to start to migrate offline.”

Do search marketing firms want to be in the print business? “It depends on objectives,” said Stylman. “We’ll test anything that we think makes sense for our advertisers.”