Newspaper Publisher Gannett Makes Upfront Video Pitch

Trying to Talk Up Reach Through Local Media Conduit, Video Assets

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Gannett hosted its first-ever upfront presentations to advertisers on Tuesday morning, as it looks to woo sponsors who may still view the company as an old-school newspaper brand.

Gannett joins other traditional print-media companies, like Dow Jones and Conde Nast, who this year are joining the digital NewFronts, a series of presentations made to marketers by big digital players just before the broadcast networks stage lavish entreaties in advance of upfront haggling, to showcase their wares and make a play for those TV ad dollars.

Gannett, whose portfolio includes USA Today, 23 local TV stations and online sites like CareerBuilder, talked up its reach among local communities as well as its video assets. The message: today's Gannett is focused on connecting its audiences to help advertisers create deeper connections and drive greater sales.

"We are not the media company -- the 100-year-old newspaper company -- people still think we are," Mary Murcko, president-national sales, said in an interview ahead of the presentation. "The point of the upfront is to tell our story; 25% of our revenue comes from digital."

Gannett's presence in more than 100 markets gives it both national and local reach, Ms. Murcko said. The company boasted digital solutions and data-driven tools that it says can help advertisers connect with and engage audiences.

Gannett hosted its first investor day in February 2012 to tell Wall Street its story and is now taking that story to advertisers, Ms. Murcko said.

The NewFront comes as Gannett's print advertising has been challenged, with publishing ad revenue dropping 6.2% to $2.36 billion in 2012. But broadcasting revenue, driven by political advertising, grew 25% to $906 million.

While Dow Jones and Conde Nast will join AOL, YouTube and Hulu on April 29 and May 3 to make their pitches to advertisers, Gannett decided to get out ahead of the rest of the pack.

"We don't clearly fit in any category," said Maryam Banikarim, the company's chief marketing officer. "We wanted to go as early as possible to claim dollars, so decided not to be part of NewFronts."

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