Newspapers’ new boss: Google

Saul Hansell reports in The Times on Google’s test of a new advertising sales marketplace for newspapers.

Is it a good idea? Of course, it is. It is an idea the newspaper industry should have taken on itself 10, no 20 ago. It’s not just about the internet. It’s about finding ways to serve small local advertisers with self-serve sales and new locally focused products. It’s also about finding ways to bring together newspapers into national networks that can sell demographically targeted ads to new marketers. Oh, the industry tried with the doomed New Century Network but it failed because newspaper people are used to working in monopolies; they are not used to thinking like their customers or working together. And that is a major reason they are now in free fall. It’s not the internet’s fault. It’s their fault.

And turning over ad sales to Google — strengthening Google over their own brands, as Hansell’s story points out — only reveals the bankruptcy of their own strategies and soon businesses. Oh, if I were running a newspaper (fat chance), I’d probably sign on, too, because there’s little time and less choice. But it is only an indication of what Google can do and newspapers can’t.

  • Stephen Larson

    The thousands of newspapers in the US, from the smallest that lack resources or have their cash flow already allocated elsewhere, to the biggest ones that are stuck in financial models that have huge debt interest or dividend payments or most newspapers that simply don’t have the culture to innovate on the web side in a cost effective manner have no chance against a single well financed company like Google that has none of these problems.

    I don’t have much hope that a distributed group of newspaper owners will somehow get together on this.

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  • Jonathan R.

    Hi Jeff,

    As I mention in my post comparing blogger reactions to the Google move (see trackback), I’m curious how you might relate it to the idea of the outsourced newspaper you posted last week. Thoughts?

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