As predicted at launch last month, quadrantOne has added several new Web sites and publishers to its network, all of which are also partnered with Yahoo. The loose collective that’s become known as the Newspaper Consortium is offering up 138 sites to quadrantOne, though it’s unclear just how much inventory that represents, nor how many consortium publishers have actually signed on as quadrantOne partners.
As the newspaper industry continues to tremble in the face of dwindling print revenues and general fear of recession-driven advertiser spending reductions, it’s clear paper publishers are willing to try a variety of ways to harvest more display ad dollars, particularly from large national brands. Alignment with the new network, as well as the deals with Yahoo could help. Still, quadrantOne has yet to actually run any ads, while actual implementation of a display ad cross-sales relationship with Yahoo is also a ways off.
Nearly all publishers in the consortium have agreed to offer inventory to the nascent newspaper network, said Dana Hayes, interim CEO for quadrantOne, and Tribune Interactive’s SVP, sales. “Almost every single one is in,” said Hayes, noting the partner publishers have signed contracts agreeing to make a dedicated amount of premium site inventory available to the network. “It is not just below-the-fold, remnant-like inventory,” he said. Though Hayes wouldn’t say how much inventory the sites have offered, he called it a “representative sample across the sites” in news, sports, travel, and entertainment sections.
“This is the first step for the industry to come together and work on the national advertiser area as a unified front,” said Christian Hendricks, VP, interactive media, at The McClatchy Co., a member of the Yahoo group and new quadrantOne partner. Hendricks also wouldn’t divulge the amount of inventory McClatchy will open up to the network, nor would he tell ClickZ News which sites the inventory will come from. “We put in sites representative of small, medium, and large markets,” he said, adding, “We hope to add more papers.” McClatchy also owns the Real Cities network, which some have suggested will compete with quadrantOne.
At launch in February, the network said it represented about 170 big and small market newspaper and local TV sites covering 27 of the top 30 markets, and about 50 million unique visitors in December 2007. At the time, founding partners, Gannett Co., Hearst Corp., Tribune Co., and The New York Times Co. supplied all the inventory. Today, the company stated that with the addition of the 138 consortium sites, quadrantOne will encompass “more than 250 newspapers, representing more than 25 percent of the daily newspapers in the country.”
Though the numbers remain cloudy, it’s important to note some of the Web sites in the initial lot are local TV station sites. Larger markets covered by the network include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Washington, D.C.
Considering the fact that many of the consortium publishers each have a large number of Web sites, the presence of limited inventory from a total of 138 sites in quadrantOne might seem relatively insignificant. For instance, McClatchy alone runs over 50 local paper sites. However, in light of print revenue losses and previous stalled or failed attempts to create a network involving most newspaper publishers, the newspaper industry looks better to observers and investors when it at least appears to be working together rather than infighting.
Publishers aligned with Yahoo have each agreed to an array of offerings, including running Yahoo’s HotJobs recruitment listings, enabling Yahoo search and other tools on their sites, offering display ad inventory to Yahoo for sale to national advertisers, and providing Yahoo inventory to their local advertisers. The display ad relationships with Yahoo remain little more than a promise, although Yahoo has started testing behavioral and geo-targeting across a handful of the sites in the consortium.
“We’re going to continue to sell into our sites per our agreement [with Yahoo],” said McClatchy’s Hendricks. “It’s not an exclusive agreement.” He confirmed McClatchy has had “two sites live in the [Yahoo] pilot test” for display advertising for about three months.
Describing the deal as “complementary” to the relationships already formed with Yahoo, Hayes said, “Yahoo has nothing to do with this. We just went to the newspaper consortium and said here’s our model, here are the terms.” Yahoo did not provide a spokesperson in time for publication of this story.
According to Hayes, the quadrantOne partnerships came about following a number of meetings and phone calls with the consortium’s leadership group since late 2007. Since the network launched, “We’ve accelerated the discussions in the last month,” he continued.
Hayes said the network has approached “dozens and dozens and dozens” of agencies and brand advertisers in the hopes of attracting them to quadrantOne. Advertisers in sectors including retail, film, luxury auto, CPG, and quick-serve restaurants are target candidates, he said.
“I think of P&G’s Old Spice,” he said anecdotally. “What we want to be able to do is in next year’s NCAA [college basketball championships], have Old Spice buy the entire network with homepage placements…and in sport…along with behavioral targeting on top of it.” Hayes added the network has been in contact with Procter & Gamble, owner of the deodorant brand, though no deals have been signed with the advertiser.