You all know I was bullish on Google’s ads for magazines. Philosophically, I feel the same way about this newspaper test. The Times coverage does nail the big issue – “it might make Google stronger.” The newspapers worry that Google treats them as just so much unsold backfill inventory. And that’s not what “content” really should be, eh?
I think the issue here for Google really comes down to scale and context. Print advertising is a maddeningly “human” business, driven by passion, emotion, and gut feeling. I’m not sure that’s ever going to go away. Ads for a specific, community driven audience need to be part of a conversation, not an algorithm. However, I can see this working well for remnant/backfill, as well as classifieds, where I’m guessing the system will really excel.