Internet search engine giant Google is muscling its way into the lower-tech end of advertising sales.

In what is almost certainly a dummy run, the web titan is offering clients space on pages it has bought in specialist publications such as PC Magazine and Maximum PC.

Google is shy about commenting on the program, save to say it is a test. However, Kevin Lee of US search marketing firm speculates: "This is probably a test of whether advertisers are willing to see Google as a place to get all kinds of advertisements rather than just online."

And some advertisers are decidedly willing. A delighted Nicholas Longo, ceo of software firm CoffeCup, a Google online advertiser, says the company called him up to offer space on its PC Magazine page.

He thrills: "It's almost like Coca-Cola calling and saying they want to put you on the back of the bottle."

And to make it even more appealing, Google has charged him less than the magazine's rack rate.

The program could have worrying implications for print advertising. Google execs have said they believe traditional media will, in the long-term, emulate search engines by using an auction structure to sell ads.

Richard Beckman, president of the Condé Nast media group, fears such a move would drive down the price of magazine advertising: "If you start selling an advertisement at a price that is not healthy for your profit margins, you can never really recover."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff