My take: Twisting the knife over Gannett ad data glitch



News Journal-Daily Times-USA Today-Dover Post etc., owner Gannett this week found itself in the crosshairs of a story in the Wall Street Journal (subscription).

WSJ said advertisers were supplied inaccurate information with online ads with some banners and buttons ending up on local newspaper websites that are part of the company’s USA Today Network.


Obviously, WSJ did not mind-twisting the knife in pointing out the uncomfortable situation facing its national rival.

In response, Gannett issued a press release claiming that the Journal implied that it intentionally shared inaccurate information to advertisers over nine months. Gannett insists that nothing shady took place.

While issuing an apology of sorts in the release, Gannett launched into a tech-laden explanation that even someone who operates on that side of the business could barely understand. The word “cache” (the temporary storage of images and files that speeds up a website’s performance) was cited as a reason for the screw-up.

Gannett also noted that the advertising in question amounted to a paltry $10 million at a company with $3.4 billion in annual revenue.

The latest version of Gannett has formed a few years ago with the merger of Gannett and Gatehouse. It gave the company control of the bulk of Delaware’s newspapers, including the former Dover Post group of weeklies.

Like others in the newspaper world, Gannett has been working to build online advertising and subscription revenue to replace a flat-lining of print revenues that emptied newsrooms around the country.

In Delaware, Gannett saw some gains in print revenue, thanks in part to Joe Biden.

Full-page advocacy ads from various organizations are more common these days. It has been widely reported that the current occupant of the White House is a News-Journal reader. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.