Gannett Buys PointRoll

Gannett has bought rich media tech firm PointRoll in a deal worth upwards of $100 million, according to a source familiar with the agreement. The sale brings one of the top four rich media companies under the roof of a major publishing house.

It’s the latest instance of a large newspaper publisher diversifying its business through the purchase of a pure play Internet firm. Earlier this week, E.W. Scripps Company agreed to buy comparison shopping site Shopzilla for half a billion dollars.

“Gannett sees the future is not just print. You’ve got to look at all the media,” said Mitch Rose, PointRoll’s VP of marketing. “It’s exciting for a company like that to recognize the possibilities of online advertising.”

PointRoll is best known for its expanding ad units and its “boy”-branded suite of rich media products. Most recently, the company introduced a “fold over” ad unit. The company has been up for sale for several months, as ClickZ News first reported in January.

“PointRoll, just like USA TODAY, has been built on ingenuity and imagination,” said Craig Moon, president and publisher of USA TODAY, in a statement. “We believe their clever, popular approach to interactive advertising and their continuous innovation will be a nice fit. We’re excited they are joining the Gannett/USA TODAY family of companies.”

CEO Jules Gardner will depart the company and be replaced by COO Chris Saridakis. Employees were informed of the deal in a conference call today at 3 p.m. ET.

“With hundreds of online sites, including USATODAY.com, Gannett understands the demands, dynamics and changing technologies of Internet advertising,” said Saridakis. “We think this relationship will be great for both our companies and our customers.”

Company executives said PointRoll would be operated as a standalone unit and said the purchase shouldn’t affect the subsidiary’s relationships with non-Gannett publishers.

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