Gannett Touts Digital Growth Plans, Partners With MLB

Gannett expects its marketing services division, which offers several digital capabilities, to reach $75 million to $100 million in revenue this year. During its investor relations conference today, the company also announced a digital content partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

The company said it expects its marketing solutions arm to be a “multi-hundred million dollar business” by 2015. In recent years, the firm has enhanced its digital marketing services through acquisitions including social media services company Ripple6, digital circular company ShopLocal, and rich media ad company PointRoll. The idea is to offer local advertisers a one-stop shop for digital ad production, search and social media marketing, and other digital marketing services.

Gannett said it expects its digital marketing services business to bring in “between $275 million and $350 million in annual revenue by 2015,” according to a a press release

Gannett ran an integrated campaign for Fareway Food Stores to reach younger customers, creating a contest featured on a microsite and the grocery chain’s Facebook page. The idea was to encourage mothers to share healthy recipes for their kids. The campaign also had a presence on broadcast, print, and YouTube and Twitter.

In addition to branching out its digital marketing services, the company has expanded its reach through content partnerships and acquisitions. Today Gannett discussed a new relationship with MLB Advanced Media in which its USA Today Sports Media Group will produce digital content for mobile devices, tablets, and the web, and MLB will handle product development. Video and text content will be curated from existing USA Today sports content or created specifically for the partnership, said Tom Beusse, president of the Sports Media Group, during a phone call today with ClickZ News.

Beusse said the partners will put out content related to a variety of sports rather than just baseball, and both companies will sell sponsorships. For instance, Gannett’s 23 broadcast markets produce lots of local sports video that could feed into the partner products. Gannett will also have access to MLB video. The two firms intend to develop and launch products in the next three or four months, he added.

Both firms will “co-brand and co-market” the content, said Beusse during the conference. “The popularity of major league baseball across the country and the amount of time it takes across the calendar year – it’s important for us to be in that space,” he continued.

In January, Gannett acquired independent sports content firm Fantasy Sports Ventures and Big Lead Sports. Big Lead Sports, a sports news, rumors, and commentary site, came in sixth in comScore’s list of sports sites in December 2011, as measured by unique visitors. Compared to the 53 million unique visitors to top site, Yahoo Sports, Big Lead drew more than 19 million, and USA Today Sports Media Group attracted more than 15 million.

Gannett also recently purchased MMAjunkie.com, a mixed martial arts site, in the hopes of building content offerings appealing to younger men.

Gannett also said it plans to relaunch its desktop, mobile and tablet products in the next year to two years, starting with its flagship USA Today product.

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