What if Google eyes classifieds?

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By: Carl Sullivan

While thousands of online publishers are eager partners in Google’s AdSense paid links, newspapers may be wondering what field the tech giant will enter next. Imagine the spine-shuddering reaction to a Google Classifieds page. But Google co-founder and President of Technology Sergey Brin says the company has no plans to sell employment, real estate or automobile classifieds. Instead, Google is focusing on search and links.

Still, Google’s experimental local search initiative could pose a threat to newspapers, says Chris Sherman, editor of the SearchDay newsletter from SearchEngine Watch.com. “The logical extension of that, once they perfect it, [is] they’ll be able to monetize it by charging merchants. It’s a great way for merchants to reach very qualified traffic.”

Already, some local advertisers are buying keywords in Google’s national programs. It’s not a stretch to imagine more local ad dollars flowing to a more localized Google. But for now, that’s a hypothetical. Brin, 30, says AdSense can be a benefit to newspapers because it “requires little or no maintenance so publishers can focus on building stronger relationships with their roster of existing clients ? while enjoying additional revenue from AdSense. The publisher’s direct sales team can then focus on the most profitable accounts.”

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