Google chastened by print and radio failure

22 May 2009

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: Google, the online search giant, is not planning to re-enter the press and radio advertising markets in the near future after closing its Print Ads and Audio Ads services earlier this year, but has previously considered buying a newspaper, its chairman/ceo, Eric Schmidt has said.

While Google's unique approach has been argued to have revolutionised the media and advertising industries, the company is also viewed as a "frenemy" by some members of these sectors due to its mixed impacts on their business models.

Schmidt argued that one of the major reasons the Mountain View-based pioneer shut down its radio and print ad systems was simply that "they didn't work well enough.

He added that "we measure our businesses very, very carefully," and this did not prove achievable for either of these mediums compared with online.

The company is still "experimenting" in certain related areas, but it will be "some time before we come up with something that's of the scale of what we tried before," its ceo said.

Despite this, Schmidt argued that newspapers reliance on classified and "big, untargeted print ads" that are largely unconnected to their content was always "ultimately destined to be challenged by technology".

As such, print titles must understand that they are "only one of the many ways" that consumers acquire information, and also "need to connect all of that together" in order to return to profitability.

However, "micropayment" schemes, as proposed by the Wall Street Journal, are only likely succeed where consumers access specialised content, as for "average news that everybody gets today they would prefer an advertising-supportive model."

Google has also "actually looked at" buying a newspaper in the past, but decided to focus on "letting content people do content in their own terms and in their own way, and working with them to try to make some significant money for them." 

Back on the web, Schimidt argued that Twitter, the microblogging service, has allowed users to do "the most amazing things", and similarly asserted that the whole "notion of real-time updates from people is very, very powerful."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff