The ongoing battle between traditional print media and the burgeoning on line media could soon end with benefits to all sides. Perhaps.

In a move into the old-fashioned business of ink on paper, Google is going to start selling advertisements that will appear in the print editions of 50 major newspapers.

Google’s plan will give the publishing business a high-tech twist: the company will expand its computer system, which already auctions off advertisements on millions of Web sites, to take bids for newspaper ads as well.

Hoping to reach out to a new crop of customers, such as small businesses and online retailers, many of the largest newspaper companies, including Gannett, the Tribune Company, The New York Times Company, the Washington Post Company and Hearst, have agreed to try the system in a three-month test set to start later this month.

For Google, the test is an important step to the company’s audacious long-term goal: to build a single computer system through which advertisers can promote their products in any medium. For the newspaper industry, reeling from the loss of both readers and advertisers, this new system offers a curious bargain: the publishers can get much-needed revenue but in doing so they may well make Google — which is already the biggest seller of online advertising — even stronger.

Tom Phillips, who runs Google’s print operations, said the company was attracted by the $48 billion spent every year in the United States on newspaper advertising. Google, nonetheless, is trying to position itself as a friend of the newspapers.

“Print adds value the Internet doesn’t have,” he said. Mr. Phillips, the former publisher of Spy Magazine, was hired by Google earlier this year. “It is a different browse-able reading medium.”

The new system will begin a test with 100 advertisers later this month. Google will not earn any revenue during the test, but when the system is formally introduced next year, it will take a cut of the advertising revenue. Google keeps about 20 percent of revenue for Internet ads it places.

Some newspapers see Google’s proposed system as a way to increase sales. “Every day in the newspaper we have a fair amount of space we set aside for ads that we are unable to fill,” said Owen Youngman, a vice president for development at The Chicago Tribune. “Google says they can bring us thousands of small advertisers for space we would otherwise fill with house ads, and we say ‘Great.’ ”

Newspapers have long tried ways to develop standby advertisers willing to fill unused space at a discount. But the Google program is meant to appeal to small businesses and those in far-flung locations that cannot be easily serviced by local papers.

“We have tens of thousands of advertisers we deal with face to face,” said Michael C. Lemke, the senior vice president for sales and marketing of The Seattle Times, which is participating in the test. “They are talking about an exponentially larger base that can do business on a self-serve basis. These are clients that metropolitan newspapers have a hard time getting to.”

Indeed, some of the 100 or so companies that Google has recruited for the test have done very little print advertising to date. EBags, a large online handbag and luggage store, does not have a traditional ad agency, but it is interested in using its existing account at Google to try print advertising, said Peter Cobb, the company’s co-founder and marketing director. He added that Google’s system would allow the company to approximate the methods used online where certain ads are associated with certain keywords.

“You can target professional males in business and sports sections and women in living and style” sections, he said. To use the Google system, newspapers list the sorts of ads that are available, including the sizes, days of the week and sections. They will also enter what is known as the open rate — a sort of list price — for each type of ad.

Advertisers then can log into Google’s main advertising system, known as AdWords, and click to go to the newspaper section. They will see a list of the participating papers and the sorts of ads that are available. They can then enter a bid for a certain type of advertisement, specifying the section and date range. Newspapers in turn see these bids and accept the ones they want.

The system is not exactly an auction — the papers do not commit to selling any advertising space. They can choose to accept as many or as few bids as they like at any time. One reason is that the papers often do not know how much space they have available until the last minute, depending on the other news and advertising on that day. Moreover, the papers sometimes can add pages if there is a lot of advertiser demand.

“The auction model doesn’t work in print where you can always rearrange a page to fit a small unit,” said Mr. Phillips.

The newspapers are hoping that the Google program can bring new customers without undercutting their existing prices. As a result, big papers, like The New York Times, will not use Google to sell large advertisements and those in the most popular positions.

“This is not about the customers we already do business with and our franchise product that is already in high demand,” said Denise F. Warren, a senior vice president and chief advertising officer of The Times. “For us it opens up a whole new segment of advertisers.”

Others will experiment with larger units as well.

“Friday through Sunday we probably are inclined only to do smaller space” said Mr. Lemke of The Seattle Times. “Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we can accommodate more space, even full-page space.”

Of course, the advertisers expect that online shopping for ads will also help them find bargains.

“I’m hopeful the program will lower advertising costs in the print world,” said Bruce Telkamp, a senior vice president of eHealth, an online insurance agency. “By aggregating a large number of advertisers, Google should get purchasing power.”

Google has recently made other moves to build its advertising business. In January, it bought dMarc Broadcasting, a company that distributes radio advertisements. Its recent deal to buy YouTube, an online video site, positions the company to expand in both online and traditional television advertising.

Google had been talking to publishers and running tests of advertising in both newspapers and magazines for nearly two years. But it found that there was less of an opportunity in magazines.

“Low-frequency media doesn’t share as much as what we are good at,” said Mr. Phillips. Daily newspapers, he said, allow for Google’s mass of advertisers to test campaigns across a range of publications and change them quickly. Mr. Phillips said Google nonetheless hoped to work with magazines in the future.

Neither Google nor the newspapers would make any predictions of how much advertising would be sold in the program nor what the rates would be. “I have no idea how big this will be,” said Ms. Warren. “For us, we think there is very little to lose in the test.”

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