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Google Buoys Print Ads to Newspapers' Delight

Google  said today it has expanded its Print Ads advertising initiative, an extension of the search giant's AdWords platform that lets agencies and advertisers buy traditional newspaper ads in newspapers through a Web interface.

The program, which started as a test in November with 50 newspapers and 100 advertisers, has grown to more than 225 newspapers with a total circulation of almost 30 million.

Participating newspaper publishers include E.W. Scripps, Hearst Newspapers, Gannett, The New York Times, The Seattle Times Company and Washington Post. Print Ads is also now available to hundreds of thousands of U.S. advertisers that currently have a Google AdWords account.

The platform lets these marketers reach audiences that look for the majority of their news online. In turn, Print Ads lets newspaper publishers pad their bottom line by adding new customers from Google's network of advertisers.

Print Ads marks a convergence of traditional advertising and modern e-commerce. Traditionally, advertisers would call up ad sales representatives for newspapers to strike a deal for ad placement.

Print Ads lets advertisers bid on ad size, space and location in several newspapers through a Web interface. The papers, which set their own pricing, approve or decline these bids. Advertisers can see electronic copies of the ads on their AdWords page after they run in print.

So advertisers can easily bid for placement in print through the Web. Print publishers benefit financially from the ads. And Google is the bridge between the two, automating billing and payment while taking a cut of the transactions.

A Google spokesperson said Google will begin taking a small revenue share from each transaction, "less if the newspaper quickly posts an electronic tearsheet."

If anything, the news should be heartening to newspaper publishers weary of hearing their publications were going to be made extinct by the rise of online media.

Newspapers now have the option of following subscribers to the Internet and protecting themselves by turning to Google or Yahoo , which similarly enables newspapers to court advertisers.

Google's Print Ads partners claim the service is working.

Todd Haskell, vice president of business development and advertising for The New York Times, said in a statement Print Ads has brought in "new advertisers who were either too small to consider advertising in a national newspaper or who hadn't tried print advertising because their business was largely online."

In related news, Google announced that it has renewed its agreement with Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive to deliver Web search and targeted advertising to Washingtonpost.com readers from the Web sites in Google's AdSense content network.

AdSense connects Web readers to text, display and video formats from Google's hundreds of thousands of advertisers.