Google finds a way to embed hyperlinks in newspaper ads

As online advertising continues to put the squeeze on newspaper publishers trying to get ad revenue, Google is looking for innovative methods to cash in on one side of the ad market it has not had much luck penetrating: print.

Google's Print Ads program allows buyers and sellers of advertising to work together through Google, as a way to meld their print campaigns with their online campaigns. But for Google to make this program lucrative, it needs to find some way to make print ads -- especially in newspapers -- more interactive than they've ever been before.

To accomplish this, Google is actively considering using a tried-and-tested technology in a very novel way, and relying on everyday readers to help move this novel method along.


2D barcode technology is readable by mobile devices like cell phones. With barcodes printed on the ads themselves, readers use their smart phones to capture pictures of the specialized code, called QR Code. The objective is for a Google service to be able to then redirect their phones to the Web site of the advertiser encoded in the barcode.

QR Code was created by Denso-Wave in 1994, and remains the most popular 2D barcode in the country. Denso-Wave originally designed the technology for use in manufacturing plants, but it was discovered the technology could be used for more dynamic purposes.

There are a number of different problems that must be taken care of before the system can be realistically implemented in the United States. Phone manufacturers will first need to figure out how to implement the technology in mobile phones sold on the US market.

The next problem is Google itself. Mobile carriers and manufacturers have yet to fairly decide on how to share the revenue collected from advertisers.

A study conducted by Frost & Sullivan in late 2006 indicates the transition from 1D to 2D barcode technology will garner up to $968 million in revenue by 2012.

"Manufacturing segments requiring high levels of visibility into individual parts tracking and automated assembly processes expect to be the largest end-user segment of 2D barcodes," said Priyanka Gouthaman, Frost & Sullivan research analyst.

Not surpringly, Google already has a large presence in Internet advertising, but wants to expand over the next few years. Another advertising sector Google hopes to control is mobile ads, which Forrester Research projects to be a $1 billion industry in the next five years.

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