When an industry (advertising in this case) goes through a radical technical change, the participants get confused about the way the new technology is going to work. Funnily enough, Google (more of a ‘founding father’ than a mere participant) made a significant false step when it launched a program for selling magazine print ads through its web-based advertising sales network. Business Week ran a good story on this with the wonderful headline: Can Google Go Glossy?

The general verdict, one year later, is that this is one of the few Google experiments that had no chance at all of working (I even heard a Googler admit that it WAS a mistake). But its an odd co-incidence that many magazine publishers have been making a similarly confused assumption in the other direction. There is a view abroad that somehow digital magazines might become a good forum for selling and delivering video ads: music clips or short video promotion movies. Many of the big consumer publishers have experimented with what are sometime called Rich Media Format ads — bundled into the digital magazine download experience. As though magazines were going to morph into the business of the TV and Radio networks. The scenario is as intrinsically implausible as Google’s dream that the AdSense network could become a vehicle for selling quarter pages of PC Magazine or Closer real estate. But that all these forms of advertising will become inextricably enmeshed — about that there can be no doubt. Google has just bought YouTube to general astonishment. That has promising implications for the magazine based advertising sector. Clickable links to the YouTube ad within the Google network — that will be a fruitful direction to explore.

Rich Media Format ads — dead in the water. Clickable links in the magazine to anywhere and everywhere …… that has to be the way to go.