February 18, 2021

While I was absorbed in all things Alden/Tribune, I failed to note a smart and potentially lucrative business move from Gannett. It will begin selling various types of digital advertising across McClatchy’s chain of 30 dailies as well as its own 260 regionals and USA Today’s sites.

Both sides of the deal stand to benefit. Digital national sales have been a strength for Gannett in recent years. With USA Today’s online content still free, traffic volume is huge. Plus geographical reach allows for customization to an advertiser’s pick of target markets. All the better on both scores when you add in McClatchy markets.

Could this lead to bigger and better things, wedding bells even, for the two chains? Maybe. But it makes a whole lot of sense even if not.

Two other Gannett nuggets:

Another plant closing

As print consolidations and outsourcing continue, Gannett has added the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to its list of print plant closings at the loss of 95 part-time and full-time jobs. The work will be done not at Gannett’s nearby Lakeland facility (which is picking up the Tampa Bay Times’ business) but all the way across the state at its Treasure Coast papers.

Moves like these generate substantial savings, as CEO Mike Reed regularly highlights in financial reports to investors and analysts, but at the cost of both jobs and much earlier print deadlines.

Cheap subscriptions in Jersey

A Gannett watcher in South Jersey forwarded me a recent introductory paid digital subscription offer at the rate of $1 for six months. Now that’s a bargain, working out to half a penny a day.

It is tempting to quip that you get what you pay for with truly local staff-reported news hard to find in small market Gannett papers. However, deep discounting (usually not that deep) is a respected strategy to build up paid digital subscriber numbers if not revenue.  Some convert to full paid subscriptions and, worst case, some email addresses are captured.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
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