MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: Google is to follow its foray into US newspaper advertising [WARC News: 06-Nov-06] with a similar move into the nation's $20 billion (€15.6bn; £10.4bn) radio commercials industry.

The web search leader says it will begin a public trial of Google Audio Ads by the end of the year. Marketers will be able to go online and sign up for targeted radio ads using the same AdWords auction system they use to buy web search ads.

Google is reported to be pursuing this new venture aggressively, hiring scores of sales people at higher than usual salary rates.

If the service catches on, it has the potential to reach thousands of new advertisers around the country who are not normally targeted by radio sales teams.

Small kitchen table businesses could sell their products on-air by simply uploading an audio file or slotting their name into generic, pre-recorded ads. But the success of the program depends on whether enough big radio companies will turn over ad space for Google to sell.

Rumors in the industry suggest the biggest radio operator in the US, Clear Channel Communications, could be ready to ink sell on its unwanted inventory but both companies are staying zip-lipped.

Radio companies in the main are wary of the Google's ambitions. Comments Lew Dickey, ceo of Cumulus Media: "We invest a great deal of time and money to train our sales people, and the Google approach ... represents the antithesis of value-added selling. We're certainly not going to cede control."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff