Google pushes ads beyond Web

Already the master of Internet advertising, Google now appears poised to extend its reach to other media, including traditional newspaper and radio, and perhaps beyond.

Google's dominance of Netvertising is difficult to dispute: Its ads are as prevalent on the Web as Starbucks are on city street corners. (In San Francisco, at least, you can find them across the street from one another.)

Anyway, Google has reaped $150 billion in Internet ad revenue in its relatively short existence, and it's moved to make its AdWords program even more accessible to anyone with a blog or a Web site via its recent do-it-yourself search engine, Google Custom Search Engine. If the program picks up, expect to see even more Google-driven ads on all types of Web sites.

And now in the past week, the company has revealed plans to extend its advertising reach offline, both to print media and radio, according to reports.

The search behemoth announced this week a trial plan to allow advertiser to buy space in popular print publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, ">according to reports. Participating advertisers can go online to see what space is available in their publication of choice, then purchase that space and upload the ad artwork. Thus far, 100 advertisers are eligible to participate, buying space in a total of 50 publications. Those numbers will increase if the program proves successful.

Also this week, the company announced plans to start testing Google Audio Ads, aimed at radio stations -- and likely podcasters. The program will allow "advertisers ... to go online and sign up for targeted radio ads using the same AdWords system they use to buy Web search ads," Reuters reports.

Notably, Google picked up radio ad company for dMarc Broadcasting earlier this year. Google was to pay $102 million in cash for all outstanding equity interests in dMarc, and agreed to make up to $1.136 billion in additional payments when and if certain performance goals were met.

Moreover, according to reports, the company is now aggressively hiring sales people at a rate of 50 percent more than the going salary for radio sales people.

So let's see: Online advertising? Check. Print ads? Check. Audio ads for radio and perhaps podcasts? Check.

What's next? Well, I'd say the company is in a great position to cash in on delivering advertising through another increasingly popular medium: streaming digital video.

Reports note that more and more people are turning to their computer as source of video entertainment in lieu of television, and lo, Google just recently scooped up YouTube.

Notably, some skeptics have scoffed at the Google-YouTube deal, noting that Google plopped down too much money ($1.65 billion) for a startup that's not only a potential magnet for infringement lawsuits, but also one that has no discernable means of generating revenue.

Well, perhaps Google knows what it's doing. I envision Google starting a Google Video Ads program by which advertisers will be able to buy ad space at the beginning of all types of video clips throughout the Net, including YouTube -- which has tons of users and millions of daily hits, and it may very well be a good testing ground for a video-ad program. Oh, and according to reports, YouTube is in talks with Verizon to bring its clips to users' mobile devices, which means more eyeballs on YouTube clips -- and thus on ads.

How might it work? Well, bear in mind that YouTube clips are all tagged. Thus, a purveyor of pet products might have an ad attached to a YouTube video tagged as "cat" or "lemur." Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo might put ads for their next-gen game consoles before a video-game related clip on a popular gaming site.

And perhaps the NBCs and Comedy Centrals of the world will decide they want to play nice with Google when they find that they can reap some advertising dollars by running sponsored TV clips on YouTube -- or incorporating Google-delivered video ads into TV clips on their own Web sites.

I do believe Google has devised a very powerful and impressive advertising program that leverages the broad reach of the Internet to encompass various types of media, both online and offline. There's a lot of potential here.

Search rivals needn't only be the ones feeling threatened by Google's seemingly unstoppable growth and momentum; the company is now encroaching more deeply into the territory of traditional ad brokers.

As for user: Who knows where else the next ad delivered by Google will show up. A billboard? Your cell phone? Your cerebral cortex? Or maybe on the cozy of the cup for your next latte at Starbucks -- no matter which side of the street you bought it.

What do you think of Google's ever-expanding ad program?

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