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Google is planning another foray into the offline advertising market by extending its AdWords system to print media.

The search giant has invited 100 advertisers to test out the Print Ads service, which will initially broker space in newspapers in the US.

If the trial proves successful, it plans to open the scheme up to other advertisers and expand it abroad.

Spokesman Michael Mayzel told Reuters: “For advertisers, it gives them access to a network of newspapers through an online interface and the ability to potentially reach a new customer base.”

Rather than reselling ad space, the platform enables advertisers to select available inventory and upload their artwork, while publishers then decide whether to accept their offers. Google is offering the service for free during the tests, but plans to take a “modest” commission from ad sales if the system goes live.

The search engine thinks newspapers and other offline media can extend their reach by adopting low-cost ad buying models developed online. It is planning to start trials of an online brokerage for radio ads by the end of this year. 

Google is also believed to have been interested in taking a stake in Spot Runner, a US-based online exchange for local TV stations, but to have balked over the price. Last month, Spot Runner received financing from ad giant WPP, CBS, Interpublic and other major media groups.

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Published 6 November, 2006 by Richard Maven

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