I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Actually, I love to say so let me say it again. I told you so. I’ve predicted the demise of Google Print Ads, TV Ads, and Radio Ads for some time. When Print Ads launched in February 2006, I was skeptical. I noted:
The only people who are really going to be interested in print ads are traditional media buyers who a) already have a lot of experience buying offline; b) are interested in branding, or c) have a call-center that generates a lot of leads for them. This probably excludes 80% of Google’s advertisers.
A few months later, I felt like Google’s entire approach to TV, print, and radio was just off-the-mark:
Print and Audio hasn’t taken off [due to] publisher skepticism. Publishers have complained about Google’s heavy-handed approach to their channels, and have been unimpressed by the monetization delivered by Google products. Combine Google’s somewhat condescending attitude toward offline channels and bad monetization, and you are going to have problems breaking into new channels.
By 2007, in a post entitled “Grading Google’s Goods,” I gave Print Ads a D- (the lowest grade I awarded) and AdWords for Audio didn’t fare too much better, getting a C+ (if you are wondering, the highest marks went to AdSense, AdWords, Blogger, Domain Park, Gmail, and Toolbar).
And so today’s news that Google is dropping Print Ads doesn’t surprise me, and I will predict right now that TV ads will soon follow. AdWords for Audio (radio) will take a bit longer to kill off, simply because I think Google has invested a lot more money into this product, but I think its death is probably also inevitable.
So is Google a one-trick pony, as some are suggesting? Well, not so fast my friend. I do believe that the DoubleClick acquisition was a smart move, one that will enable Google to gain a foothold in the very valuable media buying space (banners). And if that’s the only non-search vertical Google does master, that still ain’t too bad.