Tag Archives: Gannett

Gannett’s Key Ring: Integrating Circulars With Loyalty Programs

Gannett’s acquisition of Key Ring two years ago was something of a head shaker. Was the media giant diving into online loyalty marketing, an area mostly dominated by financial institution-related companies? Two years later, more light has been shed on the Key Ring acquisition.

Key Ring is a mobile app that lets consumers electronically enter their loyalty card in in one digital location. In this regard, it is like Constant Contact’s CardStar. What we’ve learned is that Gannett is using the App to drive targeted traffic to its big box and retail circular advertisers from ShopLocal, the sister G/O Digital brand.

CEO Chris Fagan tells us Key Ring, which has 15 full time employees, now provides circular content from 160 retailers. Of these, 90 are providing exclusive content via ShopLocal. Offers can be triggered on user cell phones by geo location or via in-store beacons. You might access “Here is what is on sale at Target” for instance. Consumers can use it to explore and discover what is nearby.

The ShopLocal ties makes it possible to scale all the merchant and brand relationships without having to deal with each merchant and brand – a major barrier for other companies, says Fagan. The app also incorporates 65,000 coupons a month from Clipper Magazine.

What Key Ring really brings to the table is enormous scale. Fagan says the App has a surprisingly high 11.1 million customers. Active users may access it five or six times a month, with the more steady users not only accessing circular content, but the site’s shopping lists. These consumers have really high retention and recurring usage, says Fagan.

Interestingly, the majority of the customers are driven organically by good consumer press and other sources, he says. For instance, the comapny recently got a good mention in Good Housekeeping Magazine that really drove usage. Gannett’s cross media ads in USA Today and on its TV stations have been helpful, but not especially critical.

Gannett Gets into Mobile Loyalty Space via Key Ring

In the loyalty space, we’re closely watching how major tech players are vertically integrating loyalty offerings into their SMB product suite. Google, Facebook and Amazon each have acquired loyalty startups and will likely make them part of their SMB suite. But how about media companies, which can add the power of their promotional reach?

Today, Gannett announced the acquisition of Key Ring from Mobestream Media. Key Ring, a mobile centric application, enables users to scan new and existing loyalty cards and programs, and also receive mobile coupons. Mobestream reports that the service has had five million downloads.

As a Gannett prpperty, Key Ring will operate as a standalone property with the suite of lead gen, engagement and promotional offerings provided by Gannett Digital Media Services, including ShopLocal, Deal Chicken, Metromix (a city guide) and Clipper Magazine. Each of the services leverages promotional and sales capabilities from Gannett’s newspaper, TV and radio properties.

Gannett Plans to be a ‘Top 3’ Player with Deal Chicken

Gannett has now publicly announced that it has expanded its Deals Chicken platform to 10-15 markets, and will be in 57 markets where it has newspapers and/or TV stations.

The company obviously enters a crowded marketplace, but will likely become an immediate contender for several reasons. These include the strength of its local media outlets, existing merchant relationships, and an (often underrated) ability to cross promote deals. Its ability to scale product development is also impressive. Gannett now has over 30 products in its stable. Its various moms-oriented verticals and Datasphere-managed hyperlocal sites should be especially helpful.

We talked with Gannett Digital head Josh Resnick last month about the rollout. Resnick said the company considered several brands, but decided to roll out with Deals Chicken, which has done well for AZ Central for about a year. “The brand resonates, and consumers like it,” he said.

He also noted that the company will work with a deals platform first developed by its Clipper Magazine coupon subsidiary, which is branded Doubletake Deals. Using Clipper’s platform makes sense since it was created to serve multiple local markets at once.”That’s the nature of Clipper’s business,” said Resnick.

The choice to go inhouse differs from other media companies such as McClatchy, which has opted to work with Second Street Media, a white label company. “We’ll do a lot of experiementation,” notes Resnick. “ We are in so many local markets. Each one is a product innovation lab. Resnick also expects some success right out the door, becoming a “Top 3 player” in each of its markets in a matter of time.

Gannett Now Producing 264 HyperLocal Neighborhoods

Gannett announced during its earnings call yesterday that it is now producing 264 hyperlocal neighborhood sites in 10 markets. This includes the recent addition of 30 hyperlocal neighborhoods in Sacramento. The hyperlocal neighborhoods, produced in conjunction with DataSphere, have put out 30,000 stories and attracted 1.9 million page views.

In addition to the hyperlocal news, Gannett says that its new “common platform” for mobile will put out 100 sites during 1Q. The platform is capable of supporting higher end video. Mobile attracted 1.6 billion page views in 2010, representing 267 percent growth from the prior year. While much of the mobile activity centers around the national USA Today flagship, CEO Craig Dubow noted that there is growth in mobile content and advertising at both the national and local level.

More broadly, digital now accounts for $1 billion in annual revenue, or just over 18 percent of the company’s overall revenue. The digital division, which includes CareerBuilder, ShopLocal and PointRoll, had eight percent growth in 2010.

Gannett Digital Media Network GM Josh Resnik is speaking about “HyperRelevant” opportunities at ILM East in Boston March 21-23.

Gannett’s Planet Discover on the Evolution of IYPs

When it was launched in 2004, Gannett’s Planet Discover was a pioneer in local search and later, the development of local online marketplaces. But it has lately had a lower profile, dating to a temporary mid-2007 mandate to focus on Gannett newspaper and broadcast properties. That mandate ended in mid-2008, and the company has since been aggressively going after new accounts both inside and outside of Gannett.

Today, the company, which is headquartered in Cincinnati and also maintains an office in Cedar Rapids, IA, provides directory, local search, events and marketplaces for nearly 100 Gannett properties. It also provides services for a wide range of non-Gannett properties. These include, most notably, CBS owned- and-operated stations, as well as McClatchy and Dow Jones community newspapers.

CEO David Lenzen tells us that the company’s directory product has especially evolved. In one installation, directory listings pull in content from CityGrid Media, such as ratings and reviews. The highly targeted content really helps “ramp up the sales effort” for Planet Discover’s partners, he says.

The modern directory actually has multiple facets to it, Lenzen notes. “We really don’t focus on it so much as an Internet Yellow Pages as an online local marketplace,” with coupons, etc. The way it has been configured it also works very well with various vertical skins. “We can easily create vertical marketplaces for a local market, including wedding, dining, and specialty automotive, for example,” he adds.

The company is now leveraging its development expertise to create native mobile apps, such as a Local News reader for Apple’s iOS and Android. The news reader is based on content that has already been ingested into the company’s seven-year-old Search Publisher.

Gannett’s ‘Deal Chicken’ Goes it Alone in Arizona

The deal a day model thrives on the power of its email list, sales channels, promotion, clever copywriting and vendor selection. Newspapers and TV stations should be especially well positioned to leverage these strengths, right? Many, in fact, are diving in to deal a day via partner relationships with Groupon and LivingSocial, or vendor relationships with the likes of Deal Current, Analog Analytics, Shoutback, Matchbin, Nimble Commerce and Offer Foundry.

Going it alone, however, is Gannett’s Republic Media, the holding company of The Arizona Republic, AZCentral.com and 28 other media and vertical sites. Republic’s Deal Chicken has been since Sept. 1, and already has 30,000 emails and 2,268 “likes” on Facebook. It ought to be able to double its email count by the end of the year, says VP of Digital Media Mike Coleman.

The Deal Chicken motif brings with it lots of branding possibilities for social media and daily emails (and has been cleverly executed.) “The Deal Chicken Knows No End” is the tagline. Some of the Facebook posts say things like “The Deal Chicken especially likes Prix Fixe Meals.”

All the writing is done on a freelance basis by contractors, rather than by more expensive newspaper staff. Unlike some of the other deal a day sites, the writers also personally interview merchants and provide feedback when deals are completed. They also receive a cut of the revenue.

“The brand is light and fun on purpose,” adds Coleman. “And we thought it was extremely important to come up with a very memorable brand, especially in light of the many, many similar sites competing for consumer attention. We don’t think ‘PhoenixDeals.com’ would cut through the clutter.”

Coleman said the company looked at its deal a day options, and thought it had plenty of internal resources and didn’t need to give away 5-10 percent of its earnings to a vendor. It also didn’t need to form a partnership with a major deal a day site. In the end, vendors and/or partners will inevitably squeeze tighter, he says.

As a standalone site, Deal Chicken can also establish its own pricing, which has been ambitiously set at 50 percent of the deal price, minus 2.25 percent for processing. That’s definitely at the high end of the deal a day range, which is typically 30-50 percent. But still, it is a relative bargain compared to other local media offerings. Rapid payment is also promised: 30 percent within five days, and the remaining 70 percent within 30 days.

Ultimately, Republic’s independent position is a brave one. Other newspaper companies have settled on partners to ensure that deal a day didn’t get in the lost in the shuffle of day to day operations, or sometimes, in acknowledgment that leading deal a day companies have successfully established a local beachhead.

But Coleman says that when you get past the credit card processing, daily deals are actually among the simplest of the 30 products the company produces. Republic is also ideally poised to push every button it has to make deal a day a success, he notes.

In addition to newspaper and website promotion, Deal Chicken is being promoted for five to ten seconds on the noon news show of KPNX-TV, the local Gannett NBC affiliate. The needle moves a lot after every on-air mention, he says.

Gannett in Big Push for Online High School Sports

High school sports have been the centerpiece of many hyperlocal efforts. They bring to the table highly passionate fans, families and players in the hard-to-reach 12-17 year-old demo.

But the economics of school-by-school efforts don’t always work, whether for branding; region-wide advertisers and advertising sales; production needs; data and content acquisition; or site infrastructure. Just getting the scores on a timely basis has been a major chore, much less coverage rights. Various athletic councils tightly control play-off rights. Consequently, it truly makes sense for sites to be developed on a regional and/or national basis. But to date, nothing has been especially effective.

Gannett is making a fresh go at it, however, with Highschoolsports.net, adding to its roster of other vertical developments (moms, shopping etc.) A startup version of the site was acquired in 2007 from entrepreneurs who tried to leverage their customer base for Schedule Star, a software program first created in 1964 that manages athlete data for 7,000 schools.

The site hasn’t developed much in the three years it has been owned by Gannett – it is currently only in 13 markets in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. Each of the markets contains multiple schools. Indianapolis, for instance, includes nine schools.

Now, the site is under new management and things are expected to change quickly. The company has now announced that it is ready to launch 38 markets by the end of August, and 100 by the end of the year, which it expects will bring it 9.4 million unique monthly visitors. The initial flurry of rollouts includes major markets such as Washington D.C., Atlanta and Denver.

Gannett’s local TV, newspaper and Web properties are attached to each rollout. There is also a tie-in with Gannett’s USA Today for national content and cross-promotion.

While the sites are geared towards national and local advertisers, there is also an e-commerce play via MyLocker.net, which provides school, team and league-specific clothes for 110,000 custom online shops. Gannett owns a minority share in the company, which promises to give a portion of sales back to their school-partners – up to 17 percent when the schools themselves initiate the sales.

The larger question is whether Gannet intends to try to go truly national with highschoolsport.net by teaming up with other media companies that also have their eye on high school sports. Tribune and Belo, for instance, have also been developing high school sports sites in several markets: Tribune, with several sites under different brands that have been retooled from My Varsity Sports, and Belo, with High School Game Time.