Google has announced that it will be closing Google Print Ads as of March 31st.
The service launched in November 2006 promising to deliver the ease of use, and client base of Google Adwords to the print industry. During the time, Google managed to sign around 50 newspapers to the program.
The problem with the service wasn't really Google's, although entering a declining market is always an interesting business decision to start with. The problem with the service was simply gaining traction in a marketplace that is not only declining, but in certain sectors (such as classifieds) disappearing outright. Newspaper advertising is heading the way of the dodo's, and bringing web tech and web ideas to print doesn't change the underlying issue: less people are reading newspapers, and less companies, even before the recession, are interesting in advertising in them.
Google though is still mindful of the perception from some newspaper owners that Google is responsible for their predicament; Google addresses this in the post
We believe fair and accurate journalism and timely news are critical ingredients to a healthy democracy. We remain dedicated to working with publishers to develop new ways for them to earn money, distribute and aggregate content and attract new readers online. We have teams of people working with hundreds of publishers to find new and creative ways to earn money from engaging online content. AdSense, DoubleClick, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Earth, Google News and many other products are a part of our significant investments to innovate in this space.
These important efforts won't stop. We will continue to devote a team of people to look at how we can help newspaper companies. It is clear that the current Print Ads product is not the right solution, so we are freeing up those resources to try to come up with new and innovative online solutions that will have a meaningful impact for users, advertisers and publishers.