National Ad Sales Force Now in Place for Gannett Network

Gannett continues to connect its parts, the latest example being its ad network that rolls up its flagship USAToday.com property with its local and social sites. The network isn’t exactly new, but tasking the USAToday sales team with selling the network to national advertisers is.

“What we’ve been doing over the past year or so is put an infrastructure in place that allows us to sell on a network basis,” said Gannett Digital Media Network VP and GM Josh Resnik. “We’ve now migrated USAToday on the same platform.” Gannett is using AdTech’s Helios IQ platform, owned by AOL, to manage the network.

“From a brand perspective and national reach, USAToday is important,” said Resnick.

Along with the national USAToday brand and its local newspaper sites, the network also includes local social net MomsLikeMe.com, Gannett’s local Metromix.com entertainment sites, sports-related site HighSchoolSports.net, and action sports site BNQT.com. The firm claims the network reaches a total of 25 million people.

Although Gannett has been selling its local properties through its network platform since July 2008, the sales staff previously selling USAToday will now sell to national advertisers across the new Gannett Digital Media Network. According to Resnick, that team numbers “in the high 20s” and could grow.

Time Inc. also launched an ad network this week, pooling together inventory from its sites like Cooking Light, CNNMoney.com, Golf.com, and People.com. The company will offer cross-platform opportunities and performance-based buys, in addition to analytics and campaign optimization capabilities through its Research & Insights division.

Gannett has already made its local site inventory available through the quadrantOne network, which is co-owned by Gannett, Hearst, Tribune, and The New York Times Co. However, Resnick said that partnership will remain intact. “It doesn’t change that relationship… QuadrantOne is one of the channels that we use to monetize our inventory,” he told ClickZ News. While quadrantOne aggregates local site inventory, he emphasized, the new network “is about taking Gannett’s owned and operated sites and selling that as a package.”

Gannett also expects to form vertical networks from its properties. For instance, the company is in the process of combining inventory from USAToday Sports, local site sports sections, HighSchoolSports.net, and BNQT.com to create a sports vertical network.

For now, network ads will be sold on a CPM-basis, but Gannett isn’t ruling out performance-based offerings. “We’re focused on CPM-basis but obviously we’re going to respond to what marketers needs are,” said Resnick. The firm is also enabling custom ad products and cross-platform buys including local events for retail advertisers.

Also appealing to retailers, an ad format combining Gannett-owned PointRoll and ShopLocal technologies allows network advertisers to include digital circulars within rich media ad units.

“PointRoll also works with Ripple6 to incorporate social networking capabilities into PointRoll ads including brand blogging, which allows consumers to share their perspectives and gain product information within a PointRoll unit,” said PointRoll CEO Jason Tafler. Gannett acquired social media services firm Ripple6 in November.

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