Gannett is undergoing a reorganization that places emphasis on digital services, marketing, and has been incorporated into the new Gannett.

Gannett has reorganized with a new emphasis on digital marketing services

Gannett’s Wednesday strategy reorganization was announced by the company. This will decrease the amount of executive time devoted to publication and increase its digital marketing services business, which is small yet growing.

Gannett Media’s new president is Maribel Perez Wadsworth. Her previous duties included USA Today and the 250 strong regional USA Today networks.

As USA Today Reports, two other publishing executives — Kevin Gentzel, the top advertising and revenue officer for the last seven years, and Bernie Szachara, who had been president of U.S. publishing operations — are leaving the company.

The company is increasingly focusing on digital marketing. It generates less that 7% of the company’s total revenue but it is growing quickly and profitably with great prospects.

Kris Barton was appointed chief product officer, and the president of this new division. “It is smaller,” Barton said, ”but it already is a large business ($450 million-plus in annual revenue).”

“Also it fits with our ties to local communities by helping local businesses” with various digital marketing solutions. Those include lead generation, tech support and a flow of information on performance — and also placing advertising on Google and Facebook, a potent force now in local marketing.

The unit’s business model also fits Gannett’s current emphasis on digital subscriptions on the publishing side, he said, since customers pay for a package of services delivered monthly rather than buying them piecemeal.

Gannett purchased ReachLocal, a digital marketing company that was founded in 2016. It was then sold to Barton. Barton joined to the company in connection with the deal. He has previous experience as a product manager at Microsoft. ReachLocal was based in the Los Angeles area, and Barton will continue to work primarily from there, even though the company’s headquarters is in Northern Virginia.

The reorganization, he said, will help “legitimize” the big role the unit plays at Gannett and streamline reporting relationships.

Ten years ago, the digital marketing industry emerged in newspapers. Advertising clients often saw it as an opportunity to make such programs affordable.

That’s still part of the customer base, Barton said, but only a part. The service is not confined to Gannett’s markets, he said. Gannett holds the largest Newsquest regional group in Canada and Australia.

Barton said that he was proud that the digital marketing group has shown double-digit percentage revenue growth over the last year, “and our level of investment is high, growing the business at the expense of some profit.”

Gannett now describes itself (as in its most recent earnings report) as “a subscription-led and digitally-focused media and marketing solutions company that is committed to empowering communities to thrive.”

Publishing is not being abandoned because of the reorganization. One of the company’s biggest announced goals is to quickly build paid digital subscriptions to USA Today and its regional publications, with a target of growing from 1.75 million now to six million by 2025.

For print, the ambition is more modest — stabilizing the legacy business where subscription numbers and advertising revenues have been declining precipitously.

As This has already been mentioned before, Gannett — along with other newspaper and magazine groups — seems to really mean it now when CEO Mike Reed talks about digital transformation. That’s a juggling act of sorts, though, when print circulation and advertising revenues still loom large even as they contract.

Count this week’s reorganization as one more indicator that Gannett is betting on what’s growing and digital as opposed to what is simply big.


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