Executives at the conference fretted about online competitors, and some suggested that papers would have to form partnerships with companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! to survive. That may be where the Google experiment was hatched.
At the time, I said papers had better be careful because the online companies have made no secret of their plans to take a bigger share of the ad dollars that now go to print media.
I don’t know enough about the Google deal to say whether papers are being penny wise and pound foolish. But on the surface, it seems crazy for papers to give a major competitor so much information about their business.
A San Francisco Chronicle story said the risk is that Google could hijack newspaper ads, but I think the danger is more subtle.
Google’s advantage is that it has incomparable data to analyze and manage advertising performance. Whether or not the newspaper experiment works, Google will end up with even more information that it can use to improve its system and sell advertisers on its model.
For the sake of the press — and my job security — I hope newspapers get as much useful information from Google and Google gets from them during this experiment.