Media update: News Journal, parent company Gannett seek a bigger chunk of the online ad market
Gannett has launched LocaliQ, an online marketing effort aimed at local businesses.
The program will be launched through the US Today Network, Gannett’s assemblage of 100 daily newspapers and the USA Today national daily newspaper. A portion of USA Today is stuffed into local papers.
Gannett’s properties that include USA Today and daily papers that include the Daily Times in Salisbury, MD and the News Journal.
A News Journal story touting LocaliQ says the effort will allow smaller businesses to have access to analytics tools that will help make their online advertising efforts more effective.
Gannett has been using analytics in measuring engagement on its online stories, with reporters often feeling pressure to write stories that generate page views and shares.
Despite these pressures, management has continued to reassure readers that investigative reporting will continue, even though such stories often draw relatively little traffic when compared to crime and accident news.
Former Delawarean Paul Wilke, who runs a marketing communications company in the San Francisco Bay area says LocaliQ is a “smart move for Gannett, but I’m not sure readers or advertisers are better served by LocaliQ. In today’s very crowded media landscape, the line between advertising and content is blurrier than ever, and this move by Gannett blurs it even further by taking a platform that is already ad heavy and putting a greater emphasis on advertising, rather than journalistic integrity.”
Wilke continued, “What remains to be answered is whether small businesses will be adequately served by putting their advertising dollars into a platform that is less focused on social media advertising and more focused on banner advertising online at a time when mobile apps like Apple News effectively hide or bury ads. Additionally, it’s concerning that Gannett is adding resources to advertising and analytics while the number of journalists in Gannett newsrooms is shrinking at an alarming rate. It makes you wonder what exactly will be left to sell and monitor if this continues.”
LocaliQ is one of many efforts the newspaper industry has launched in an effort to curb a sharp decline in display and classified advertising.
The advertising agency concept has long been viewed as a way to drive more dollars to digital and print under the premise that the local newspaper/website is the most trusted source.
The question has always been the objectivity of a media property in providing advice when it operates its own properties. The battle has continued internally at many papers, since print dollars are often more lucrative to sales people than digital dimes.
On the plus side, The News Journal’s DelawareOnline generates the most traffic of any online news property in Delaware.
However, the site labors under a format loaded with pop-up advertisements and videos that makes navigation difficult. Delaware Online also operates with a paywall that limits the number of story views by nonsubscribers.
The mobile site is more user-friendly in terms of a lack of pop-ups.
Note: A previous version had the incorrect name of the Salisbury paper.