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Google Expands Sales of Print Ads

Google Inc. is expanding a test program that lets online advertisers buy ad space in newspapers, as the publishing industry struggles to offset business that has moved to the Internet.

Google launched an initial test of Print Ads last November, connecting about 100 advertisers with 50 newspapers. Late Tuesday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said it will open the program to the "hundreds of thousands" of U.S. advertisers and agencies that use its online ad platform, AdWords.

Newspaper publishers including Hearst Corp., The New York Times Co. and E.W. Scripps Co., cautiously optimistic about early results, have increased the number of daily newspapers involved in the test to 225.

"We did see some new advertisers come in through the original test," said Gannett Co. spokeswoman Tara Connell. "Now we really need to see whether there really, really are advertisers (who are) going to jump in here and bring us new business."

The self-serve, Web-based program is designed to draw companies with little or no experience with print advertising. Like with search advertising, companies bid on available ad sizes, sections and dates; it's up to publications to accept or reject the bids. Google's technology automates the billing and payment cycles.

Google's Smita Hashim, a group project manager, said Google will begin taking a "small revenue share" from each transaction, less if the newspaper quickly posts proof that an ad has run.

The newspaper industry is scrambling to plug the dike as advertisers follow subscribers to the Internet. Some of the biggest publishers, including McClatchy Co. and Hearst, have turned to Yahoo Inc. to power their online advertising and boost traffic.

"It's obviously a challenging time, so any new tools, any messages, any education to stretch the reach of our offerings is very exciting," said Mei-Mei Chan, vice president of advertising at The Seattle Times Co. "What Google brings is a whole cast of clients who are typically not traditional media advertisers."

Chan said the bulk of companies that used Google to place ads in The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer were Web-only companies from beyond the Seattle area.

Newspapers will continue to work with longtime advertisers directly, rather than funnel them through the Google program. Chan said she also hopes to establish that more traditional relationship with the new crop of advertisers.

"We're here to offer them much more than a self-service model," she said.

Google also announced late Tuesday that it renewed an agreement with Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive to deliver search results and advertising on Washingtonpost.com.

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