Google Ads: Off the Web and Into Your Newspaper

Dennis Faas's picture

Since the launch of the highly successful AdSense campaign, Google has been synonymous with online advertising. Thanks to a new initiative that will merge online and print ads, Google is making the leap from the screen to the printed page and hosting ads in a newspaper near you.

Google's new Print Ad program will allow organizations with an existing AdSense account to convert their campaigns to print format with just a few mouse clicks. Advertisers will be able to search for ad space within over six hundred international newspapers.

Linking online ads with print media could cause a significant shift in terms of how consumers of traditional media interact with their products. Additionally, by enabling print media to tap into the online advertising boom, this new initiative may be able to provide struggling print media with a lucrative source of new revenue. (Source:

While the concept of print and online ad harmony isn't new, Google has developed a unique approach that will allow consumers to selectively view advertisers' promotions via their mobile devices. Newspaper readers will scan a specialized two-dimensional barcode appearing in ads, which will then redirect them to the advertisers' webpage. (Source:

The two-dimensional barcode, known as QR code for "quick response," was developed in 1994 by the Japanese corporation Denso-Wave. Originally intended for manufacturing applications, QR remains one of the most popular forms of two dimensional code in Japan.

It remains to be seen whether the Print Ads campaign will be effective or not. Consumers may recall a similar attempt in early 2000 to implement embedded hyperlinks in print media using a portable scanner known as the ":CueCat." The :CueCat was intended by its creators to be the link between "the physical world [and] virtual space" -- an excellent idea that has been rendered obsolete by the prevalence of mobile devices that can perform the same task. (Source:

Despite the failure of previous attempts like the :CueCat, market analysis firm Frost & Sullivan predict that two dimensional barcode technology could result in $968 million in profits by the year 2012.

However, there are several obstacles that need to be overcome before the technology really starts to pay out. Google has yet to come to a firm agreement with mobile device carriers, print media publishers, and advertisers as to how the profits will be divided. In addition, many mobile devices in the North American market are not yet equipped with the technology to utilize the QR code.

While many consumers may not embrace yet another form of advertising foisted upon them, the opposite is likely true for most newspapers. In the past decade, print media has suffered a dramatic loss of income as advertising revenue switches from a print to an online marketplace. By enabling newspapers to cash in on the online ad boom, the merger between virtual and physical may be able to provide a life line to struggling publications. Whatever the end result, Google's Print Ads initiative is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet