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Gannett, via its Planet Discover subsidiary, says it will start providing its newspapers and TV stations with search marketing help. The newly formed “Market Development Group” will be run by Stanley Gauss, the former online general manager of The Press of Atlantic City. Planet Discover head Terry Millard says Gauss and his team are going to provide “an additional layer” to the 64-person division’s local search activities. The idea is to ensure that every aspect of search implementation is executed.

In the past six months, newspapers have begun to really embrace search and extend their marketplace to small businesses, he notes. “They are definitely more aggressive, with call centers, training for outbound, direct mail and other strategic tactics.” But things fall through the cracks too often. “It is all one piece: educating the consumer, engaging the customer and getting the right marketing plan.”

The end goal, Millard adds, is to expand the advertiser base. While Planet Discover’s local search guides compete with Yellow Pages, “it isn’t all Yellow Pages,” he emphasizes. There is a layer of media below that: the community shoppers, things like that. There is a huge market of businesses that aren’t going to spend $3,500 a year,” the average for Yellow Pages buys. “But they’ll spend $100 a month.”

Millard says the effort starts with Gannett, where Planet Discover has already launched search efforts for it 110 newspapers, and is now gearing up to convert its 21 TV stations. Other Planet Discover clients are also being asked to participate. They are mostly newspapers but also include some verticals such as travel.

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