Google, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is beginning a test an ad program with large newspapers. Local advertisers that use Google's AdSense text ad program, which makes up almost all of the search giant's revenue, can now extend their AdSense buy to print newspapers in order to pick up a larger audience, and, in theory, more customers.
The problem is that newspapers, as a print medium, cannot target audiences with the laser focus that AdSense can.
In addition, local newspapers are already running a large number of local classifieds. However, that business is dropping sharply. It is going away for two reasons. One is that Internet sites like CraigsList and CareerBuilder are more efficient at getting leads. The other is that newspapers are losing their circulation, mostly to online news sources. As circulation drops, ads become less effective. You know how the saying goes -- you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear.
Selling more ads -- even if they appear to be targeted -- into a dying medium, is not going to solve the core problems that newspapers face. They don't work for advertisers anymore.
Now, if Google would step up its program to target ads to the newspapers' online websites like nytimes.com, that might help large paper chains a great deal. And, it would make sense. AdSense.
Douglas McIntyre is a partner at 24/7 Wall St.