Gannett Launches “Cash for Clunkers” Topic Portals

August 17th, 2009 by Nikos

Earlier this month, we launched our services across the 100+ online properties of Gannett in collaboration with ContentOne, . ContentOne is a division of Gannett, whose mission is to make the company “smarter, better and more efficient in delivering news and information to its customers, while allowing its community of journalists to focus on news and information and avoid duplication.”

The Lingospot service launch was centered around the recently adopted “Cash for Clunkers” program. As a rapidly developing story with national importance and high commercial value, it was the right opportunity for ContentOne to exemplify its online media strategy and an excellent launching pad for the Lingospot service across the Gannett properties.

Lingospot aggregates and dynamically organizes Gannett’s content by topic, while providing editors with tools to easily create and maintain topic portals. Our platform allowed ContentOne to quickly launch special coverage portals with breaking news and developing stories about the Clunkers program (example). These portals were created by aggregating Gannett’s assets (stories, photos, videos, and pooling editorial resources to hand-pick content and/or select the best content sources. The portals use Lingospot’s algorithms to automatically compile and collate a vast repository of content, while human editors add touches of domain knowledge to structure and organize the portals to best serve their audience. Once created, these pages became fully autonomous, as Lingospot’s engine continuously collates the most compelling content to engage the target audience. Editors can, at any point, improve the usefulness of these pages by fine-tuning the parameters and adding deeper domain knowledge.

The Gannett Clunkers portals are composed of three types of content (see screenshot):

  1. Reference Modules (green) provide in depth articles about the program, information on new car models eligible for the program and tools to research and buy new cars. For example, visitors can start by reading an introduction to the program and can then find out whether their clunkers qualify. If so, they can do research for a new car by visiting the portal of each manufacturer, such as the Toyota portal, where they will find the eligible Toyota models and links to research for where to buy the car on, a Gannett property.
  2. News Modules (blue) allow visitors to read the latest Clunker program news from Gannett’s properties, as well as from news sources outside of Gannett to round out the coverage. The universe of external news sources that is searched is fully controlled by the editors at ContentOne, so they can pick the sources that they deem most appropriate and valuable to their visitors. Lingospot then tracks the hundreds or thousands of sources and finds the most relevant and recent content, all with zero editorial effort.
  3. Multimedia Modules (yellow) tap into Lingospot’s ability to aggregate the relevant photographs across Gannett’s properties, as well as videos from their local TV stations, to make the overall visitor experience more engaging. A secondary video offering provides additional national coverage from AP and Bloomberg.

The result of the above combination is a highly engaging, feature-rich, and up-to-date resource for readers to find out all about the Clunkers program.

The Lingospot service was made available to 83 Gannett newspaper sites and 21 TV station sites. These websites simply linked to a portal, which was then dynamically customized to the branding and design of the referring newspaper or TV station. Furthermore, local sites could sell ads and sponsorships on each portal (such as to a local Dodge dealer), as well as tap into Gannett’s sales team for national campaigns across all properties (such as from Ford or Toyota).

Without the Lingospot platform, Gannett’s editors would have to manually create these portals by assembling each component, such as the latest stories, TV clips, relevant photos, links to sister properties and the Web at large. Once created, the editors would then have to maintain these pages to keep the content fresh and relevant. Done manually, this would have been very time consuming and expensive. Moreover, given the fast moving nature of the Clunkers program, ContentOne could not afford to wait for the portal to be manually compiled, nor could they afford to commit editorial resources to keep the portal updated indefinitely. They needed to quickly launch the Clunkers portal across their properties, capture the audience interested in this topic, keep them engaged with compelling content, and get their sales team to hit the pavement selling sponsorships before consumer interest faded or the program was terminated. From conception to launch, it took ContentOne and Lingospot less than 36 hours to go live with a full offering across 104 Gannett sites, allowing the national and local sales teams to take full advantage of this highly targeted sales opportunity.

The Gannett Clunkers launch is a textbook example of the core value that Lingospot is creating: making it easy to engage topically-focused visitors. By enabling publishers to automatically create vertical topic-focused content portals, we are allowing visitors to self-segment based on their topical interests, making them prime targets for high-margin topic-focused ads and sponsorships.


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