@ UBS Media Week: Gannett’s ContentOne Ties Local Content With National Ads

imageIt’s a tougher time for newspapers, but Craig Dubow, Gannett’s chairman, president and CEO, has a basic answer for the continued existence of newspapers: consumers will always need content and advertisers will need to reach them. As for why newspapers are the best vehicles for that connection, Dubow turned, interestingly enough, not to print, but to Gannett’s web properties. In particular, Dubow, speaking with two other Gannett (NYSE: GCI) execs at the UBS Global Media and Communications (PDF) conference, touted a forthcoming program called ContentOne, which he said “will completely change the way we share content across the company, especially at the local level. It will be created using the web start-up model.” It should be up sometime in Q1. The idea is “local content on a national level,” and will use the regionally focused sites MomsLikeMe and Metromix as the foundation. More after the jump.

— By the end of year, digital will be between $700 and $725 million from its newspaper sites. If TV station websites are included, it’s over $1 billion in revenue, for a total share of 15 percent of revs. Going into next year, Chris Saridakis, Gannett’s SVP and chief digital officer, said building digital revenue isn’t just going to rest on local advertisers, but on Fortune 500 companies, which are expected to pull back marketing budgets significantly over the next year.

Outlook for Q4 and beyond: To date, publishing revenue is down 18 percent, while digital is up only 5 percent, said Gracia Martore, EVP, chief financial officer. As a result of the recent layoffs across Gannett’s local papers, the company will see a charge related to $45- to $50 million in severance. Getting back to digital revenues, as a result of the larger stake Gannett took in CareerBuilder this September, the jobs site will supply 80 percent of ad sales in that area.

— Saridakis sidestepped a question about the ad revenues from community sites like MomsLikeMe. The value of these sites, at least right now, was more about gleaning data and gathering a fragmented community at this point.