My take: Twisting the knife on Gannett’s ad data problem


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

WSJ said advertisers received inaccurate information with online advertisements with banners and buttons ending up on the websites of local newspapers that are part of the company’s USA Today network.

Clearly, the WSJ didn’t hesitate to twist the knife in pointing out the uncomfortable situation facing its national rival.

In response, Gannett issued a press release claiming that the Journal implied he had intentionally shared inaccurate information with advertisers for nine months. Gannett insists nothing fishy happened.

While issuing some sort of apology in the statement, 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 blunder.

Gannett also noted that the ad in question was a paltry $10 million in a company with $3.4 billion in annual revenue.

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

Like others in the newspaper business, Gannett has struggled to generate online advertising and subscription revenue to replace a stagnation in print revenue that has drained newsrooms across the country.

In Delaware, Gannett saw printing revenue gains, 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, Content Director.

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