Gannett Adding Digital, Local Ads To Broadcast Sales Strategy Says VP Diaz

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GannettGannett announced last week it would expand their local advertising partnership with Yahoo! to all 19 of Gannett's broadcasting division markets by February 2012. Read the release.

Anthony Diaz, VP of Sales and Strategy for Gannett Broadcasting, discussed the announcement and Gannett's local, digital ad strategy with AdExchanger.com.

AdExchanger.com: What are some of the keys at Gannett for a successful, local digital ad strategy?

AD: Our approach has been to, first, fully understand that customer situation and their need. And then, where I think a media outlet like Gannett Broadcasting is unique is that we try and create an idea that solves the problem. We're able to leverage the strong brands we have in our markets to execute these ideas. We utilize broadcast television, dynamic ways to use digital, whether it's our own sites, mobile or opportunities within video.

And then, to bring it full circle to this expansion that we're announcing with Yahoo!, as we understand and deliver audience. Yahoo! gives us the layer of helping those advertisers reach their audiences at the right times, in the most relevant of situations when they're closer to that buying cycle and they're closer to the moment to where they can take action on the ad.

How important is owning tech to create an effective, local, digital ad strategy?

I think it's a mix. I think organizations like ours are always trying to figure out, how can we best serve our customers in our local marketplaces. And I think the approach is going to be different. You back into what makes sense - whether it's to organically build in-house or to enter into a partnership like the one that we've done over the past year with Yahoo. There's really no one answer to it.

How has/will your traditional sales team leverage this Yahoo relationship?

We have almost a year behind us with the relationship. We started the alliance last year with Yahoo as an entire Gannett entity with our publishing division, and at that time seven broadcast outlets of ours. We've been out in our communities and worked closely with our salesforces on training them on how best to integrate this solution into an overall media mix, an overall campaign.

We've already seen a nice shift over the past few years ‑‑ and this is not a Gannett thing, I think this would be media sellers, in general ‑‑ shifting from selling one platform, your main traditional platform, to truly creating solutions and executing those solutions over a suite of products and services.

We saw some nice success in that initial wave of seven stations that came on board with Yahoo!. The success was in two different buckets. First, we saw a nice uptick in the results we were driving for our clients. Another piece of this is we posted really nice digital growth.

In the second quarter 2011, the broadcast division posted digital growth just under 30% over second quarter 2010. I will say that Yahoo was a piece of that growth, but really it was an overall commitment by the company and by the division to focus its efforts on being able to serve our customers with a whole suite of digital assets.

Can you break out how revenue works at a digital property? Is most revenue derived from custom, integrated placements?

Each campaign is unique because we do approach it in a customized fashion.

A certain brand may want to drive a certain type of sampling and registration so we may pull heavier from email. Another partner may want to reach a specific audience and then we'll go a little bit heavier on behavioral targeting. Each client has a different need so the composition of the overall multimedia bundles change literally by account, certainly by market. There is no one formula or template that our salesforce goes out with because that's not going to drive results. Our customers are unique, their needs are unique, so each campaign is unique.

But we have seen an expansion of the tiers within the overall bundles. So we are starting to see customers have an appetite for, I want to launch the campaign with television, drive online registration on your site, get them to register and form a relationship with you through text or email and target the whole campaign to a specific audience with behavioral targeting. It really brings a nice overall set of layers to drive results.

Of all the digital channels right now in local, which one are you most excited about? Video, mobile, social, etc….?

I would say the integration of them. Of course we're the broadcast division and I truly believe there's no more impactful medium than video. Video just has a way of connecting with people. I've just seen the power of it in our communities and certainly with our advertisers. I'm really getting excited about seeing the integration of those types of elements.

Is there frustration ever in selling digital? Do you wish, for example, that there was an online GRP - especially as it relates to video of course?

There's no real frustration. I think you know there's different expectations and accountability for different mediums.

The digital environment has gotten pushed into a clickthrough metric. I think the approach that we're taking is that we're trying to shift from just delivering impressions, no matter the platform, to be able to get in and have a deeper discussion about outcomes. Local business want results, they want outcomes. They want calls, registrations, foot traffic, sales off their sites, whatever that outcome might be. The more and more we're understanding how our campaigns can drive outcomes, it's a completely different business relationship with our customers and it gets you away from GRPs, and click through rates - that's the direction we're heading.

By John Ebbert

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