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Google Seeks Friendship; Newspapers Curse

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Google said it wants to be “best friends” with traditional newspapers.  A newspaper executive replied (with more humor than anger), “I don’t know what the hell we’re talking about.”  That exchange should give you an idea of what took place during a panel discussion at the Newspaper Association of America’s convention in New York.

Google Seeks Friendship; Newspapers Curse
Google Seeks Friendship; Newspapers Curse
Google Seeks Friendship; Newspapers Curse

All right, so those two quotes don’t really belong together, but they still seem to represent the tone of the conference.  Old media is losing ground – fast – to its Web-based counterparts, and this trend has people such as that newspaper exec worried.  Yet Google is trying to keep the peace (and/or not start a panic) by praising print ads.

“We think there’s all kinds of value there that’s really untapped,” said Tom Phillips, Google’s print ads director.  “We actually think it’s an underappreciated medium.”

Forbes’s Louis Hau relayed Phillips’s reasoning.  “Readers of the [print edition] are reading that newspaper 20 minutes everyday,” Phillips said at the conference.  “Not cover to cover, but they’re reading a lot of pages.

“[That represents] a lot of impressions, a lot of news, a lot of information flows, a lot of marketer exposures,” he continued.  And it may also represent a lot of loyalty – personally, I’ll flit from website to website, but would never shell out for more than one or two paper subscriptions.

Yahoo and Microsoft may also follow this line of thought – Yahoo’s Hilary Schneider and Microsoft’s Harry Patz were, according Mediaweek’s Jennifer Saba, present at the “partnerships in transition” event.  And Phillip’s statement about becoming “best friends” with the newspaper industry supposedly represented the beliefs of all three corporations.

As for the “don’t know” comment, that came from George Witwer, the primary owner of the KPC Media Group, and was only in reference to the “esoteric relationships” between old and new media.  Yet whether that state of confusion will prevail over the offer of friendship remains to be seen.

Google Seeks Friendship; Newspapers Curse
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