Google moves into print advertising


The news that Google is moving into print advertising has aroused strong interest and commentary across the web. It is buying full page advertisements in technology publications, and slicing them into smaller pieces to sell to existing advertising clients. This is the first time Google has done anything outside the Internet. However advertising accounts for 99% of its revenue, so it’s equally fair to characterize it as an advertising company as an online search engine. One of the key features of the print ads is that Google supplies its own 800 numbers for people to call in, with calls forwarded to the advertisers. In the first instance, this allows direct measurement of results, in the same way as online advertisting offers. Google clients pay for clicks from online advertisements through to their website. Receiving a phone call as a result of an ad is the offline equivalent of this. Om Malik suggests that the 800 numbers could be part of a Voice over IP play for Google, while Gary Stein of Jupiter Research sees a related move by Microsoft as leading to a “pay per call” advertising model. This relates to FreeConferenceCall‘s business model, that offers (surprise!) free conference calls, and makes money on the traffic carried on its infrastructure.

Internet advertising in 2004 rose 33% to $9.6 billion out of $358 billion of global advertising revenue. Not an enormous proportion, but enough to change how advertisers think about reaching their audiences. Google’s model – and the Internet generally – allows completely tailored targetting of advertising messages. This thinking is beginning to go beyond the online domain. How far will it go? Certainly to interactive television and interactive print. Once combined with location-based technologies, tailored advertising will start to become immersive.