Google NOT revolutionizing newspaper ad sales

Google's fourth try at print ad sales does not suggest Google will be revolutionizing newspaper advertising anytime soon.

Last week, a cheery Google Checkout merchant shared a glowing testimonial with the New York Times (see “Google Checkout: $20 million AdWords pitch”), he even modeled a Google Checkout tee-shirt for the New York Times reporter.


Today, the Washington Post brings us its latest report on how Google is “too good to pass up,” featuring a glowing testimonial from a participant in the Google “test” of a prospective newspaper ad sales initiative currently underway (see “Google $48 billion Print Ads test: fourth time’s the charm?”):


Ed Peterson, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Intelius, a Web company in Bellevue, Wash., said his firm is placing ads through the program and has been pleased with the results. 'They've taken the print world and allowed us to manage it in an Internet way,' Peterson said.


How so?


Since the newspaper ads have run, he said, Intelius's call volume has gone up and its Web site visitors are buying more frequently. ‘For us, that points to effectiveness,’ he said. ‘You can do some basic math, and you can point to: 'I ran this ad in this region on this day, and how do our numbers look?' -- those kinds of things.'


“Those kinds of things?” Peterson’s “basic math” is not the “targeted, measurable advertising” Google claims it enables, in every medium.


Peterson’s wishfull, but not conclusive, “For us, that points to effectiveness” recalls “Google’s fuzzy YouTube logic” I have dissected:


What is the hard ROI for video views at YouTube?


CBS indicates it seeks to drive YouTubers to its television network shows. But can such conversion actually be measured and counted, like a click through on a Google AdWord ad?


Google, YouTube and CBS are currently hanging their video hats on warm and fuzzy “beliefs,” not on hard, trackable conversion metrics.


Believing that YouTube “works” brings to mind the “old school” advertising maxim: "I know that half my advertising works - I just don't know which half."


Google will need to show content owners harder ROI metrics than “beliefs” in order to maximize its own ROI on the $1.65 billion YouTube. 

The New York Times has perhaps the most pragmatic assessment of Google’s fourth “test” at revolutionizing print advertising:

'We think it's a wonderful way to introduce advertisers to the New York Times and print overall,' Todd Haskell, vice president of business development said. Once the program gets going, he added, 'we'd look to up-sell and migrate those [smaller advertisers] to bigger programs and better positions [in the paper] and move them out of the Google system.'

ALSO: Google multi-billion dollar bets in 2007


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