With frienemies like this, who needs eneriends?

Woody Allen famously wrote, “And lo, the lion will lay down with the lamb. But the lamb won’t get much sleep.” A similar arrangement has led to the coinage of the word “frienemy,” to describe magazine and newspaper publishers that have entered into an agreement with their online nemesis Google. In this agreement, Google is auctioning unsold print ad inventory to select AdWords clients. The arrangement seems to be benefiting both parties more than they expected.

According to a MediaPost report, the sales of print advertising through Google has far outpaced expectations:

Google plans to expand its pilot program next year. The system, which Google has been testing since November, allows advertisers to bid online for daily newspapers’ remnant print ad inventory.

During initial testing with 100 advertisers and 66 newspapers, the volume of ad sales tripled Google’s expectations, according to a story first appearing Wednesday in The Washington Post. That report echoed comments made earlier this month, at the UBS global media conference, by James Conaghan, the Newspaper Association of America vice president for business analysis and research. Conaghan told analysts and media at the conference that Google had sold in three weeks all inventory it expected to sell in the program’s first three months.

Plan on seeing more examples where online marketplaces broker print media space. What this unlikely collaboration means for the ink-and-paper industry is anyone’s guess. Got any ideas?