Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rent This Space: Google Adapts AdWords Model to Print Ads

As noted in CNET News, the art and science of advertising has had a new wrinkle added as Google extends its AdWords capabilities into the domain of print. Working with two tech-oriented publications already using AdWords themselves, Google purchased a page in their mags that they then sold to its AdWords clients in divvied-up blocks (online version from PC Magazine). While at the moment no more than a small-scale experiment, it's yet another indication that the scope of Google's media model continues to expand its ability to deliver contextual content value in more venues than ever. It's doubtful that many mags will warm up to this concept in the short run, but in the long run it part of an important trend that's likely to grow.

Ad networks in the online world have already detached many elements of the ad sales process from both publishers and ad agencies. The Google experiment demonstrates that the ability to make money from available context without getting involved in the details is going to be a much wider phenomenon. It will absorb not only print outlets but more sophisticated electronic content downloaded into the devices of users. Instead of selling content that has context, the trend is to sell context that has content. Perhaps we think of this as ads today, but it's more about paid placement for any number of messages and commercial opportunities that are not packaged as traditional ads. Perhaps it's a display from a useful software application that complements a story. Perhaps it's an offer for a financial transaction that can be executed with a click. But most importantly it detaches that ad-placing function from the people providing the editorial content.

This opens the door to editorial content coming from any source that can get a piece of the action in a common contextual object - like the common ground found in search results today but with a difference. The day may come when a Google Newspaper or a Google Magazine with content tailored to an individual from many sources makes its way to our driveway or mailbox. If this concept frightens you, then get to work on making the name on those publications yours.
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