Google News ads: Another nail in traditional media's coffin

Regular users of Google News search are seeing something new alongside their results: text ads via Adwords. This is a first for Google News and a move that probably won't make many users--or media outlets--happy. But as the economy continues to falter, it probably won't be the last place Google decides to add ads.

In a blog announcing the move, Google said adding the ads was simply business as usual, explaining it's been experimenting with various ad schemes for previously ad-free sites like Google News since November:

We've always said that we'd unveil these changes when we could offer a good experience for our users, publishers and advertisers alike, and we'll continue to look at ways to deliver ads that are relevant for users and good for publishers, too.

The "good for publishers" part is a bit confusing. Google News simply gathers stories that were produced and paid for by usually more traditional media outlets like the New York Times or the Washington Post. Many of those outlets have grumbled about copyright issues when it comes to Google News. They don't appreciate Google profiting from their hard work and dollars. Until now, the relationship was pretty symbiotic in that once a news story lands on Google News, the site of the original content was virtually assured of increased traffic--which the originator could then monetize any way they saw fit.

But now Google, with its search ads, is looking to make money itself by feeding off the content of these media companies, many of which are struggling just to survive. Adding ads to Google News only makes matters worse: Why would an advertiser run ads on traditional media sites when Google News gets all the eyeballs first?

To Google, this latest move may seem necessary in today's economy, especially since IDC predicts that online ad spending will see its first-ever decline this year since 2001. Google needs more ads, and adding more screen real estate probably seems like a logical way to do that. But that begs the question: What will Google News crawl once all the traditional media outlets go belly up? Something to think about Google.

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