Gannett has launched over 100 mobile news and information sites in local markets, and will monetize them through a combination of regional and national sales.
The mobile sites, mostly brand extensions of Gannett's local newspaper and television operations, will be updated with local news, sports, and weather content by staffers at the news conglomerate's multiplatform content hubs, dubbed Gannett Information Centers. The small-screen properties include such news outlets as Nashville's m.tenessean.com, Tucson's m.tucsoncitizen.com, and Jacksonville, Florida's m.firstcoastnews.com.
Advertising on the handheld-specific sites will generally be sold on a straight CPM basis and conform to guidelines put forth by the Mobile Marketing Association. Available formats range from splash pages to banners with text, and ad features include click-to-call as well as e-mail and SMS opt-ins. Some of the ads will be brokered by AOL-owned mobile ad network Third Screen Media, which already represents mobile inventory for Gannett's USA Today, while others will be sold in-house.
Direct ad sales will be handled through both regional and national sales offices, and media buyers can pick regions and content types they'd like to advertise against.
"If you wanted to buy just sports content across all these sites, you could do that," said Matt Jones, Gannett Digital's director of mobile strategy and operations. Alternately, he said, a marketer could limit ads to weather content pages in the Southeast.
"We have a unique opportunity to really drill down locally," he added. "We have brands and coverage in these markets we're in that's going to be difficult for anyone else to duplicate."
A sampling of ad placements on the new mobile destinations illustrates the diverse sales strategy. One banner-with-text ad spotted on the mobile Web site for the Nashville Tennessean promotes area realtor Crye-Leike. Another, on the site for South Carolina's Greenville News, is a graphical recruitment ad for the Navy. A click on the Navy ad launches a text-only landing page with two response mechanisms, click-to-call and SMS, both of which invite respondents to request a "free Navy video."
Gannett intends to package and sell its mobile ad inventory along with offline media, a strategy in keeping with its longstanding mobile sales efforts on behalf of USA Today. Over a year ago, Gannett signed a deal with mobile messaging provider 4INFO and began promoting its mobile alerts in the national paper's print version. Jones said Chevrolet is the current sponsor of the 4INFO placement in print, and the Chevy messaging carries through to the messaging itself.
"We're a big believer in cross-platform packaging," he said. "Some of the best campaigns I've seen are not standalone," but rather take "traditional advertising and layer it into mobile."
Jones added the potential for integrated campaigns with mobile, print, online and broadcast elements is not limited to national advertisers. "We plan to do a lot more of that locally as well," he said.
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