Gannett Makes Major Investment in Lifestyle Vertical Grateful Ventures
Expanding Gannett’s reach and diversifying its assets
Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) investors may find themselves ‘grateful’ that the parent company of the USA Today Network is expanding its portfolio with a new purchase. On Wednesday, Gannett announced that it has made a majority investment in Grateful Ventures, an online media and publishing coalition with a focus on building content and monetization strategies for high value domains. Grateful has a particular interest in high-influence food and cooking websites and bloggers.
With this strategic investment, Gannett has expanded its audience and digital properties as well as diversified its asset portfolio with a complementary company. According to the announcement, beginning in 2018, Grateful will launch ‘several new personality-driven lifestyle categories with long-tail content, videos, live interactions, event integrations and passion topics’ to deeply engage its audience across platforms. This opportunity will give the USA Today Network the opportunity to earn more revenue through additional advertising offerings through influencer marketing, branded content and event sponsorships.
‘We are impressed by Grateful’s vision to provide original, high-quality content in high-passion categories,’ said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, Senior Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer, in a press release.
‘Their focus on building relationships with influencers, who have an authentic voice and resulting strong following, is a winning formula. And we look forward sharing these premium content experiences with our existing viewers as well as appealing to new audiences,’ Perez Wadsworth added.
Based in Phoenix, Grateful was started in 2014 by Kyle Cox, CEO, and Justin Rainbow, CTO. Their collective specializes in design, development, branding, marketing, advertising, online media, videography and cinematography. Their brands include Food Blogs Stars, Food Blogs LLC & .COM, and Thanksgiving.com. Grateful has a monthly audience of about 8.5 million. The company will expand their team to support the new Gannett initiatives.
‘We are incredibly excited to join forces with such a dynamic, diverse and innovative company as Gannett,’ said Cox. ‘As someone with a background in both print and online media, I know how extraordinary it is to team up with a company that touches the lives of millions. Thanks to USA Today Network’s reach and wealth of creative and professional resources, the new opportunities available to Grateful are truly unparalleled.’
Founded in 1906, Gannett is a media and marketing company with more than 110 million unique visitors visiting its digital properties each month. The company owns 109 local media organizations in 34 states and Guam, and it has more than 160 local, digital news brands in the U.K., and ReachLocal. Its brands include USA Today, AZ Central, Detroit Free Press, The Tennessean, St. Cloud Times, IndyStar.com and Great Falls Tribune.
In its second quarter earnings report, released in August, president and CEO Robert J. Dickey alluded to potential acquisitions and partnerships.
‘Moving forward, we will focus on driving audience growth and engagement through additional new product capabilities, while also expanding our marketing services to offer complete solutions for both local and national advertisers. At the same time, we will continue to maximize the economic value of our print business to allow for reinvestment to fuel our digital growth,’ Dickey said.
The majority investment in Grateful Ventures will allow them to do just that, as will Gannett’s acquisitions over the last 12 months which include Journal Media Group, Inc., North Jersey Media Group, ReachLocal, Inc. and SweetIQ Analytics Corp.
Investors did not have a significant reaction to the news. On Wednesday, October 4, 2017 when the announcement was made, Gannett stock closed at $9.27 per share. On Friday, October 6, at 4:22 PM Eastern, stock closed at $9.46 per share.
Like many legacy media organizations, Gannett is trying to find additional revenue streams to make up for lost print circulation and advertising revenue. Similar to The New York Times’ acquisition of The Wirecutter and Sweet Home, Gannett is spreading its wings with a lifestyle vertical. This provides new opportunities for partnership, but also diversifies Gannett’s portfolio as it did with ReachLocal.