Mobile Ad Streamlining Fuels National Buys for Gannett Digital

Gannett today reported a 12 percent boost in its company-wide digital revenues in Q1 2011 compared to Q1 2010. As its print ad revenues fall, it comes as no surprise that the firm is investing in its digital businesses, recently redesigning its more than 100 local and national online and mobile properties. The company says the streamlining of its mobile ad buying processes, along with improved targeting capabilities are helping to bring in more ad dollars to its mobile offerings.

“What it’s allowed us to do is to gain further dollars with national advertisers,” said Craig Etheridge, VP of mobile advertising sales at Gannett Digital.

Part of the redesign project entailed big changes to Gannett Digital’s mobile sites to enable standard ad units and targeting across all sites. Before the redesign, the company had less insight into its mobile ad inventory; the new system, which employs one tag across all mobile properties, reduces variations in mobile ad products and opens up inventory to national advertisers that would have been sold on a site-by-sited basis before the redesign. The redesign launch began around a month ago and culminated around a week ago.

“Certain properties had different opportunities for clients and they were at different levels,” using a variety of mobile providers and developers, said Etheridge. The streamlined process, he said, removes inventory constraints for content categories such as sports, which can now be purchased across properties, allowing national brands to target different offers to different regions of the country.

“Everyone has access to the inventory,” said Etheridge, noting that both his national sales team and individual local digital salespeople can sell into all mobile ad inventory. Mobile ads, which include rich media executions as well as standard banners, can be geo-targeted, or targeted by DMA or lifestyle.

“Rich media is really beginning to take off,” Etheridge said. The mobile division at Gannett Digital’s PointRoll handles ad creative services for some advertisers running Android and iPhone campaigns.

Gannett today reported that company-wide digital revenues – which include mobile ad revenues – rose 12.4 percent in Q1 and totaled $251.3 million, representing approximately 20 percent of its total operating revenues.

About 90 percent of mobile campaigns from national advertisers also run on Gannett’s online properties, according to Etheridge. “It’s very rare that you’ll see a standalone mobile buy with us.”


The USA Today iPad app, which has been downloaded approximately 1.8 million times, is fueling unique campaign buys for brands including La Quinta Inns and Suites and watchmaker Omega. La Quinta ran an online, mobile and iPad campaign connected to NCAA March Madness basketball coverage. To reach business travelers, the firm offered a mobile destination called “Mobile Hoopla” that included a pick ’em bracket contest.

Also on the iPad, Omega sponsored USA Today coverage of the 2011 Masters Golf Tournament the week leading up to the event. Banners drove golf fans to an interactive experience offering information about the brand and its watch collections, including video spots and high definition photos of the watches.

The firm’s iPad advertisers come from auto, finance, retail, travel and luxury goods verticals.

While national advertisers are driving ad innovation in Gannett’s mobile properties, local advertisers are a bit behind them. “There’s a gap in understanding of what mobile can do for them and the buys tend to be smaller; there’s a lot of testing,” said Etheridge.

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