KAI RYSSDAL: You've heard, here and elsewhere, about the problems newspapers are having. How circulation's down and it's tougher than ever to sell ads. Part of the blame has always been put on the Internet. How online ads will be the death of papers printed on actual paper. Or perhaps not. No less an Internet ad powerhouse than Google may actually be coming to the rescue of the newspaper business. It's launching a test program to let online advertisers buy space on the printed page. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler explains some of the country's biggest papers are lining up for a turn.
JEFF TYLER: The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, More than 50 daily newspapers are partnering with Google to sell ads. That may seem counterintuitive, at a time when newspaper circulations are in steep decline. Especially given that Google often competes for advertising dollars.
But spokeswoman Tara Connell with the Gannett newspaper group says Google's pilot program may present an opportunity for . . .
TARA CONNELL:". . . New advertisers. A lot of the advertisers that are going to be participating in this are ones that may not have been involved with newspapers before."
Connell says advertisers will use an online auction model.
CONNELL:"Advertisers who want to place ads in any one of our newspapers — anyone of the eight in the test — would call into this bidding system and basically give an amount that they'd like to pay and a size. And on our end, we can accept or reject it."
A newspaper might reject a bid because it's too low or, because, editorially, it's not a good fit. Nat Ives with Advertising Age says the new model isn't meant for existing clients.
NAT IVES:"I think publishers will be keeping an eye out to see if any of their big display advertisers, say Verizon, which regularly buys huge spreads in newspapers, are trying to use this system to come in and get cheaper deals."
And, at the end of the three month trial run, if newspapers don't see any financial benefit, Ives expects publishers will revert to their old ways — doing everything possible to push Google off their turf.
In New York, I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.