Planet Discover, the Cincinnati-area based local search vendor, has announced deepening ties with Gannett and E.W. Scripps. Gannett has now placed Cincinnati.com and Tucson.com with Planet Discover, while Scripps has placed Knoxnews.com, and plans to adds Planet Disover’s local search to five additional titles by the end of Q3.
Planet Discover also said that Vance Gorke, Switchboard’s newspaper relations manager, has joined as its VP of Business Development. In his role with Switchboard, Gorke managed the Yellow Pages sites on 44 of the Top 100 newspapers , but left the company this summer after its new owner, InfoSpace, decided to de-emphasize newspaper affiliates.
Planet Discover’s addition of the Gannett and Scripps titles suggests that it is increasingly poised to breakout in the newspaper search space. They add to existing relationships that the company has with several McClatchy titles and Torstar (The Toronto Star), among others.
Making Shopzilla Local?
For Planet Discover, the Scripps tie is especially interesting, as the parent company looks for ways to localize its new Shopzilla acquisition. Up to now, Scripps executives have solely focused on Shopzilla’s synergies with the conglomerate’s non-local cable properties, such as HGTV, The Food network and DIY.
The Gannett tie has its own areas of intrigue. Gannett has really ramped up its Internet activities in the last year, including taking an ownership interest with Knight Ridder and Tribune in Cross Media Services, which produces ShopLocal.com, the local sales and services site for women. It would appear that the strategic direction of ShopLocal and Planet Discover will intersect at some point.
While Planet Discover can rightfully claim to have momentum on its side, its success is not assured. The revenue from newspaper searches is usually split with the vendor, and doesn’t amount to much. Indeed, to earn pocket money and solidify its ties with papers, Planet Discover has taken on a number of side deals to provide customized, search-oriented solutions that integrate news, aggregate classifieds, etc.
Still, the potential for newspaper search remains fairly good, as newspapers begin to compete more seriously against the Yellow Pages for search-oriented shopping and small business advertising. Also competing for newspaper affiliates are Interchange, which has The Orange County Register and a dozen titles with Morris Communications; and PremierGuide, which has The Sacramento Bee and Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.