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Newspaper Publishers May Combine Web Ad Sales

January 12, 2007
Related Topics: Candidate Sourcing, Latest News
Gannett Co., McClatchy Co. and Tribune Co. are considering joining forces to create a national advertising sales team to sell display advertising for their vast network of Web sites. The unified sales effort is intended to streamline the cumbersome process of negotiating national advertising deals and thus tantalize companies with a large national presence. Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune, known as GMT, are the owners of CareerBuilder, but the big question on employers’ minds is whether or not this initiative will encompass help-wanted ads.

GMT is being guarded about releasing details of the project, code-named Open Network, indicating that negotiations are ongoing. At this point, however, many options appear to be on the table.

“It is too premature to give a definitive yes or no about anything,” says Tara Connell, vice president of corporate communication for Gannett. “We are taking a careful look at all types of display ads right now.”

Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman would only confirm that the company is pursuing discussions about developing a national sales team alongside Gannett and McClatchy. A unified sales staff would be a strong tool for attracting national advertisers and give the industry a much-needed shot in the arm, according to experts in the field. Chain-type corporations are often put off from using newspapers for their national advertising needs because it is complicated—they have to negotiate deals with each newspaper entity involved—and costly. They are likely to get a better bargain by buying from a single source, like a national magazine.

For its part, McClatchy—which became a joint owner of CareerBuilder after its acquisition of Knight Ridder last year—declined to comment. While GMT is being tight-lipped, that hasn’t stopped industry experts from speculating about what the future might hold.

Jim Townsend of Classified Intelligence believes it would make good sense to include CareerBuilder in this process.

“It is a perfect cornerstone to build a national network,” he says.

CareerBuilder is a portal unto itself and would give national advertisers the type of large-scale exposure that they desire.

Despite the buzz around the GMT project, it will be some time before employers learn for sure whether they will have a new source for recruiting.

“We are still in the early stages of negotiating,” Connell says. “A lot can happen.”

Gina Ruiz

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