Newspaper kingpins launch marketing consortium

Four of America's largest newspaper companies on Thursday announced a marketing cooperative in a bid to bring national advertising to their regional and local properties.

Nucleus Marketing Solutions, a joint initiative from Gannett, McClatchy, Hearst and Tribune Publishing, aims to provide marketing services to 70 percent of consumers in the top 30 U.S. advertising markets, according to a press release from Gannett. They will be joined by as many as 11 partners and reach 168 million unique visitors.

The initiative will be led by CEO Seth Rogin, who until last week was the chief revenue officer of Mashable.

Collaboration on this scale among newspaper companies is noteworthy but not unprecedented. Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune were previously business partners for Classified Ventures, the parent company of the automotive website Cars.com. The company was eventually purchased in its entirety by Gannett.

The launch of the consortium comes as larger newspaper chains are intensely pursuing scale and consolidation opportunities. Barriers to cooperative ventures with competitors are simultaneously melting as newspaper companies realize the hazards of choosing proprietary routes.

While the details and business point are not completely clear, this appears to be an industry answer to programmatic buying, which keeps growing in popularity with advertisers. The twist is that rather than just getting inventory, the buyer gets the quality of a local news audience.

Nucleus Marketing could be a way to support native advertising, video and even virtual reality advertising — to date typically the domain of the largest newspaper companies like the New York Times or digital native sites like Vox and Buzzfeed.

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