Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Another Google Product Killed: Print Ads No One Wanted

Yet another sign Google is getting serious about cost-cutting: It is dropping its efforts to sell print advertising in newspapers. In a blog post put up this afternoon, the company says it will drop its Print Ads product at the end of February.

One sign that Google (GOOG) isn’t getting desperate about cost-cutting: I’m told no employees will lose their jobs as a result of the decision.

Back in Google’s go-go growth years it seemed inevitable that the company would expand its killer search ad platform to other media: It would tackle print, radio and television.

But none of these expansions has taken hold yet: Google’s move into radio, via the acquisition of dMarc Broadcasting, has gone nowhere. And its efforts to sell TV time have been more or less limited to an experiment with Echostar’s Dish Network. But the company did sign a pact with GE’s (GE) NBC last fall.

The move comes in the wake of Google’s announcement that it was laying off up to 100 recruiters and chopping a handful of no-impact programs like Dodgeball. It wouldn’t be a shock to see even more programs dropped in the near future.

And now for a trip down memory lane, all the way back to July 18, 2007, courtesy of Digital Daily:

Encouraged by the latest results of Google Print Ads, a service that allows advertisers to buy traditional newspaper space in 50 national and local papers, the company is expanding it to include 225 newspapers. Together those publications have a combined circulation of almost 30 million and serve all but three of the top 35 media markets, which could be a compelling proposition to the hundreds of thousands of Google AdWords users who are now eligible to purchase ad space in them. ‘We believe newspapers are a critical component in the marketing ecosystem,’ Spencer Spinnell, head of sales strategy for Google Print Ads, told the New York Times. ‘More than 50% of adults read newspapers every day, and marketers are always trying to reach new customers. It’s always a great multiplier effect when marketers think holistically both offline and online.'”

And back to the present, via the text of today’s “Turning the page on Print Ads” post from Google’s “Traditional Media” blog:

In the last few months, we’ve been taking a long, hard look at all the things we are doing to ensure we are investing our resources in the projects that will have the biggest impact for our users and partners. While we hoped that Print Ads would create a new revenue stream for newspapers and produce more relevant advertising for consumers, the product has not created the impact that we — or our partners — wanted. As a result, we will stop offering Print Ads on February 28. For advertisers who have campaigns already booked, we will place their ads through March 31.

We launched our Print Ads program with 50 newspaper partners in November 2006 and, with the cooperation of our partners, were able to expand the network to include more than 800 U.S. newspapers. Since then we have worked closely with advertisers and newspapers to create a product that would bring a new source of revenue to publishers.

We believe fair and accurate journalism and timely news are critical ingredients to a healthy democracy. We remain dedicated to working with publishers to develop new ways for them to earn money, distribute and aggregate content and attract new readers online. We have teams of people working with hundreds of publishers to find new and creative ways to earn money from engaging online content. AdSense, DoubleClick, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Earth, Google News and many other products are a part of our significant investments to innovate in this space.

These important efforts won’t stop. We will continue to devote a team of people to look at how we can help newspaper companies. It is clear that the current Print Ads product is not the right solution, so we are freeing up those resources to try to come up with new and innovative online solutions that will have a meaningful impact for users, advertisers and publishers.

It’s always difficult to say goodbye to products. Lots of people at Google have worked hard on Google Print Ads. Some advertisers have seen good results and our partners have dedicated time and resources to help get it off the ground. But as we grow, it is important that we focus on products that can benefit the most people and solve the most important problems. By moving resources away from projects that aren’t having the impact we want, we can refocus our efforts on those that will delight millions of users.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”