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Local Matters

with Kevin Gentzel

Local Matters

with Kevin Gentzel

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We are honored and excited to have President of USA Today Marketing Solutions Kevin Gentzel with us today. Kevin joined Gannett as its first Chief Revenue Officer in 2015 and was named President of USA TODAY NETWORK Marketing Solutions in 2019. He brought with him 20 years of media experience. He previously was head of Advertising Sales, North America at Yahoo!, and earlier served as Chief Revenue Officer of The Washington Post, and Chief Revenue Officer at Forbes Media.

Since Kevin’s been at the USA TODAY NETWORK he has grown digital sales across national and local properties and has prioritized new initiatives like branded content. In this episode we talk about how LOCALiQ can help local businesses, data-informed design, native advertising, using AR and VR in storytelling and more. We also talk about the future of the internet, and Kevin shares some of the ways USA Today is leveraging emerging technologies.


Show Notes

[03:30] Kevin is very passionate about digital media and marketing. The time that he has spent in his career that he is most proud of is when he worked with extremely great talent.

[04:13] Some of the proudest times in Kevin's career was when he was working with extremely great talent. Figuring out the future is like a Lewis and Clark expedition. Making up a future that hasn't yet been created is fun.

[05:46] With the Internet, a generation is 5 years, and we've gone through a number of cycles of generation and regeneration.

[06:11] Thinking about scale from a Silicon Valley perspective is a billion users. Not many platforms have developed a product that has reached a billion users.

[06:50] For a media company, the benchmark is a hundred million people. Gannett  has scaled one reader at a time. This was a big draw for Kevin. 

[07:40] We have journalists across the country building audiences in 109 communities. 

[09:16] LocalQ was designed to provide agency and consulting like services for small and local businesses. We might be uniquely positioned to make a model out of creating a local agency. 

[10:56] We feel we can create a unique partnering opportunity with local businesses. 

[11:50] We used machine learning to find out if we can impact performance with display ad design. Data informed design is becoming more of how our designers are designing display assets.

[12:11] Driving more business with display ad products is critical for local businesses.

[12:25] Native advertising is in the family of branded content. We feel it’s important for a local business to be able to take advantage of native advertising because it drives deep engagement.

[13:28] Whether it's through video, quizzes, graphs, or other interactive immersive storytelling devices that branded content drives engagement.

[15:07] LocaliQ has great technology like AI machine learning that can be made available for local business owners. 

[16:46] We now have a product that uses deep learning that we are bringing to local businesses.

[17:32] Kevin shares how we can make these technologies real to local business owners. AI and machine learning will become less intimidating and more tangible in the next two years.

[19:25] Virtual reality puts journalists, engineers, product teams, and advertising together. VR and AR are really exciting for the future of storytelling on the Internet.

[23:12] We've worked with a lot of brands to help tell stories in VR.

[24:37] Augmented reality takes highly complicated subject matter and makes it understandable.

[25:15] The 321 Launch app simulates rocket launches.

[27:15] Trying new things can be risky and scary for local business owners. We are experiencing extreme disruption. Modern business owners need to be open to new possibilities.

[28:45] Our value proposition helps business owners with technology, dashboarding, and reporting to empower them to do it effectively and efficiently.

[30:37] Some of the biggest mistakes occur when you don't learn from your decisions.

[33:06] Develop a personal board of directors that you can tap into to gain diverse perspectives.

[33:50] Kevin has worked with Jeff Bezos. He acquired the The Washington Post when Kevin was the Chief Revenue Officer. Jeff believes having a point of view adds 20 points to your IQ. There are handwritten meeting agendas.

[35:38] Kevin also worked with Steve Forbes and learned about the economics of business. 

[37:14] He predicts that smart products and 5G will become a bigger part of the Internet. 

[38:10] There are challenges and opportunities that brands face in a voice driven world.

Thank You

Tracy Oswald
Andre Archimbaud


Rob Heath -
Ronan Fitzgerald -


Kevin Gentzel