Gannett Names New Chief to Front Digital Push

12d8581Publishing and marketing services company Gannett has hired David Payne as SVP and chief digital officer, replacing Chris Saridakis who left the company 11 months ago.

Payne joins from ShortTail media, the video ad technology startup he co-founded in 2008, and will now oversee the publisher’s digital assets including its websites and digital services companies such as rich media ad provider PointRoll and local retail division ShopLocal.

According to Gannett, its digital business has grown 44 percent over the past two years, reaching $1 billion in 2010, and representing 18 percent of its overall revenue. Payne is charged with driving further business growth through digital channels, as the company continues to focus more attention on non-traditional media.

Gannett’s network of owned and operated newspaper, TV, and national Web sites currently reaches 52 million unique users on a monthly basis, or about 24 percent of the U.S. Internet audience, the company said. Payne implied it was that reach and scale that attracted him to the role, as well as its capacity for digital growth.

The company did not return requests for information on whether or not Payne would pursue further digital investments, following the acquisition of PointRoll in 2005, social media services firm Ripple6 in 2008, and ShopLocal shortly after.

Besides acquisitions, however, Gannett has also been building new digital marketing offerings in-house, having announced trials of a Groupon-style social commerce platform late last year. In his new role Payne will presumably oversee the development of that type of digital offering.

Prior to founding ShortTail media, Payne was SVP and general manager of CNN.com, as well as holding positions at Turner Sports and Entertainment Group.

He succeeds Chris Saridakis, Gannett’s first chief digital officer, who left last year.

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