Google, Yahoo Show Publishers Some Love

Seems Both Wouldn't Mind a Little Partnering

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PHOENIX ( -- High-powered executives from Yahoo and Google each tried to woo publishers today at the American Magazine Conference, the same gathering where magazine executives despaired over the web not that many years ago.
Yahoo's Daniel Rosensweig is interviewed by 'Wired' editor Chris Anderson.
Yahoo's Daniel Rosensweig is interviewed by 'Wired' editor Chris Anderson. Credit: Doug Goodman

"So far, no medium has eliminated another," said Daniel Rosensweig, chief operating officer at Yahoo, during an on-stage interview with Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson. Yahoo loves magazines, he said, because the company can partner with them to attract traffic and sell ads -- while driving visitors and revenue back to the titles' own sites. "We offer the ability to reach your audience in another place they go."

Tim Armstrong, VP-advertising sales at Google, said in a session directly following Mr. Rosensweig that search engines can help close the gaps between magazines' brands and their web traffic -- and gave out the e-mail address of Google's content executive, David Eun, who can help. Google has also not given up on its offline ambitions, and is still continuing to pursue a system to let advertisers bid on ad space in magazines' -- and newspapers -- print editions.

Not great at creating content
"There is a public perception about getting steamrolled by Google. But Google is not great at creating content. It's not something we talk about. I would not be worried about Google doing anything in the magazine space except for helping," Mr. Armstrong said.
Tim Armstrong
Tim Armstrong Credit: Doug Goodman

His checklist to working with publishers? Introduce Google advertisers to print; build a web-based marketplace; share incremental revenue with publishers; improve transaction efficiency and targeting; and establish measurable response metrics. He also made sure to tell attendees that in the third quarter of this year Google paid out $825 million to its partners. "There's a big opportunity here," he said. (After the session, one attendee from a major publisher noted of the offer, "Can you say Trojan Horse?" -- leading MediaWorks to conclude that Mr. Armstrong may still have some more bridge building to do.)

On other fronts, Mr. Armstrong fielded a question from the audience about Google's operations in China, where the government blocks many websites. While the mantra remains "Don't Be Evil," he said, sometimes the company has to do "the minimum amount of evil."

When an attendee asked Mr. Rosensweig about click fraud, he said Yahoo, Google and others are collaborating on fighting the problem but that Yahoo believes it is relatively small in scope. "It's the soft white underbelly that you wish didn't happen, but it really is manageable," he said.

A different philosophy
Mr. Anderson also asked him about YouTube, which Google recently agreed to buy for $1.65 billion. "We think video is going to be ubiquitous," Mr. Rosensweig said. "It's just a different philosophy."

Mr. Armstrong, during his question-and-answer period with the audience following his session, laid out a few different scenarios for how video ads may evolve on Google and YouTube. "What's the best user experience for video ads on the web?" he asked. "Well, at Google, we invented click-to-play video ads instead of pre-roll. At Google, we'll put up a click-to-play ad and then test different formats. Maybe some users want to pay to watch video without ads. Maybe some want to watch part of a video with an ad. Maybe they are willing to opt into an ad. Could you have users on the web be sponsored? So I'm Tim and I want Nike to sponsor my experience on the web, and all the video ads that are served to me are relevant. There's a lot of ways it can evolve."
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