More Context on Gannett/McClatchy/Tribune Network

newspaper.jpgA front page Wall Street Journal story has had folks abuzz about a new ad network formed by Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune. The three aim to attract national advertisers to their sites through what they’re calling the “Open Network.”

There isn’t much information available beyond the bare basics, and even those are nowhere near set in stone: If it all pans out, they’ll each be making about 10 percent of their inventory available through the network, and it’s open to other newspaper publishers as well. None of the three publishers would tell me anything more than was reported in the WSJ.

Apparently, though not reported in the WSJ story, this is premium, or high value inventory, i.e. homepage, main section pages (travel, business, etc.).

This network (most are calling it the GMT network) is making headlines on the heels of the deal formed between Yahoo and the so-called newspaper consortium of originally seven and now nine paper publishers.

Insiders tell me there’s bad blood between those Yahoo-aligned publishers, also recently referred to as the “seven amigos,” and GMT. In part, that stems from the fact that the Yahoo clan were excluded from GMT’s CareerBuilder and Cars.com/Apartments.com classifieds club (a.k.a. Classified Ventures).

In order to compete in the cutthroat online classifieds space, the amigos aligned with Yahoo, owner of HotJobs. The plan is to roll out that classifieds integration in other categories as well.

Indeed, the WSJ story hints that Yahoo will also extend those relationships into the display ad arena, in the hopes of handling ad management and serving for the newspaper partners, and plugging its search functions/ad network onto their sites.

Don’t count on it, some newspaper industry insiders say. Such an arrangement would most likely provide Yahoo access to each publisher’s data. Historically, Yahoo has been a main competitor of the online newspaper publishers, so even though they’re in the HotJobs club now, sharing data with Yahoo (which ad serving/management would most likely entail, especially when it comes to behavioral targeting) might be too much to swallow for the papers.

Though some think the potential GMT network is a good thing for paper publishers as a whole, others think if it comes to fruition it will only serve to divide the industry even more. The fact is, advertisers want a one-stop local media shop for prime space (not the remnant stuff they get through ad networks), and unless advertisers go through intermediaries (like Centro), a bunch of small networks won’t give them that.

Oh, and one other thing. Let’s not forget Tribune is on the auction block right now, which could throw a wrench into this whole process.

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