Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Urgent: David Payne named chief digital officer; former CNN executive fills long-vacant position

[Updated at 12:17 a.m. ET March 17. AdGent Digital bought ShortTail for an undisclosed amount, just as CEO Payne was about to announce his departure. Payne, who co-founded ShortTail, told AdWeek that AdGent's plan is to expand ShortTail's "D30" ad unit to more publishers across the globe, "and that the timing of his departure didn’t signal any problems at the company."]

From a statement Corporate issued this morning:

David A. Payne has been named senior vice president and chief digital officer of Gannett, Craig A. Dubow, chairman and chief executive officer, and Gracia C. Martore, president and chief operating officer, jointly announced today. Payne will be a member of the Gannett Management Committee.

Payne joins Gannett from ShortTail Media, where he was president and CEO of the video ad technology start-up he co-founded in 2008. From 2004-2008 he was senior vice president and general manager of, which produced and distributed all of CNN's digital services, including, CNN Mobile, Live, and CNN Video on Demand.

"David has an incredible track record developing and leading digital operations in the media industry. He has tremendous digital content and advertising experience and understands media distribution, sales and marketing. He clearly has his finger on the pulse of what consumers and advertisers want in today's digital world," Martore said. "As consumers and advertisers continue to embrace new ways to engage with and share content on any platform and device, Gannett will continue to be a leader in developing new digitally delivered services. David will help us grow and innovate even faster and help us chart a new and exciting direction for our company and the many audiences we serve."

Gannett is a digital leader with hundreds of newspaper, TV and national web sites that reach 52 million unique users monthly, or about 24% of the Internet audience, as measured by comScore Media Metrix. The company's digital portfolio includes PointRoll, the industry leader in rich media advertising, and ShopLocal, its retail division and leader in multichannel shopping and advertising services. The company's digital business has grown 44 percent in the last two years and, with revenue of almost $1 billion, makes up 18% of Gannett's total revenue.

"Gannett is a terrific company that has seen tremendous growth in its digital segment," Payne said. "The company not only has an unparalleled news organization, but it also has an enviable portfolio of digital products and incredible local and national reach that is unique in the digital ecosystem. I am very excited about Gannett's future and to be joining this talented team."

During his career at Turner Broadcasting, Payne also served as senior vice president of business operations and development at CNN (2001-2004); senior vice president and general manager of CNN/Sports Illustrated Interactive (2000-2001); vice president of legal and business affairs for Turner Sports and vice president and team counsel for Turner Sports Teams (1994-2000); and as counsel for Turner Entertainment Group (1993-1994). Prior to joining Turner, Payne was an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, DC; an associate of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, DC; and a producer and weekend assignment editor at KUTV in Salt Lake City, UT. He holds a law degree from Duke University School of Law (JD with Honors), and received his Bachelor's of Arts degree, cum laude, in Public Policy Studies, from Duke University.


  1. Very interesting to see that he has a real journalism background; that's obviously good.

  2. Good luck, Dave. A lot of people are depending on you to lead Gannett out of wilderness. And don't be afraid of Dubow and Martore. They're both on the way out!

  3. Awesome new hire. He has three things going for him:

    1. news experience at CNN
    2. entreprenuer mindset
    3. a player in digital and in news

    Gracia good move! Two great new young energetic experienced executives in one week.

  4. Mr. Payne has been a vocal proponent of video ads that take over the computer screen and keep you from accessing any site content until they play.

    If we can save journalism by becoming very, very, very annoying, that sounds like the ticket.

  5. These recent hires must make Hunke and Dickey feel like the dinosauers they are. It'll be good to have some new, non-career Gannett faces at the table.

    Gannett has been stagnating for too long with its stale stable of professional ass kissers.

    All that's needed now is for these two to stand up to the powers that be, tell them how it is, and assert their influence.

    I strongly suspect that these hires were pushed by the Gannett board. If so, it's the first positive thing the directors have done for the shareholders in years!

  6. A possible concern: his relative lack of big operational experience?

  7. Turner Broadcasting/CNN is not big operational experience?

  8. I'm raising this more as a question to elicit feedback from all of you.

  9. Big corporate, lawyer, failed entrepreneur. Perfect for Gannett.

  10. sitting through the ads....3/16/2011 12:14 PM

    Wahhhhhh, how dare you throw up an ad over my free content in order to recoup costs of providing said content.

    Snip: Mr. Payne has been a vocal proponent of video ads that take over the computer screen and keep you from accessing any site content until they play.

    If we can save journalism by becoming very, very, very annoying, that sounds like the ticket.
    3/16/2011 11:22 AM

    Talk about entitlement. I dislike the ads, but know they are a necessary evil, unless of course you're willing to accept paywalls.
    Here's hoping Payne comes up with a solution that doesn't involve lay-offs furloughs, doing more with less, but instead building revenue and stronger content.
    You may say I'm a dreamer....

  11. Look, what we've got wasn't working. It's clear corporate is over its head understanding this new technological revolution and what to do. Phony campaigns and made-up transformations shows there was no likely candidate in this operation to help them.
    So now we have Banikarim and Payne brought in to point the way. I'm as skeptical as anyone about how these two are going to fight their way through that minefield in the Crystal Towers and do anything. But let's see what they come up, and let's see how it works. God knows, the resistance to any change in this operation will be fierce, bitter and very personal. The existing structure will be fighting for their lives because everything they knew in the careers is falling in shatters around them.
    My one disappointment is that these hires have not been accompanied by any departures. We certainly do not need to see more larding up of the executive suite of suits who do nothing. And perhaps I would have made other choices.
    But neither you or I were consulted on this.
    The status quo is a continuing decline that I think everyone on this board clearly sees. It is the path towards more furloughs, more layoffs and more consolidations. Here is possibly an alternative path. Hell, it's better than nothing.

  12. Annoying the audience is bad business, and there's always a solution to annoying content.

    Annoyance: Obnoxious radio ads
    Solution: Pandora

    Annoyance: Obnoxious TV ads
    Solution: DVR

    Annoyance: Forced online video ads
    Solution: Visit news-aggregation site instead

  13. Jesus! A lawyer as the head of Digital. What the hell!!!

    This guy was in big corporate CNN and was a failed entrepreneur at ShortTail. Clearly the was a desperate move on both parts.

  14. 12:26 I would imagine there will be streamlining and reorgs coming at some point with these two heading up new structures. Good news for some. Bad for others.
    But let's get this mother ship moving.
    I'm all for a major overhaul.
    If you were building a hot news resource or media company today, It would look very different than Gannett. So something drastic has to change.

  15. The coming days in the Crystal Palace are going to be better than the Roman Coliseum. It is going to be like feeding lambs to the wolves.

  16. I frequently do the USA Today crossword puzzle. Sometimes there's an ad, and sometimes not. When there is, I do something else while it's playing. Less than a minute, I'd say.

    Putting up the ad doesn't mean people look at it even if it's forced on them.

  17. His background as federal prosecutor is interesting. Wouldn't want him questioning me very closely.

  18. I'm kind of glad he has a diverse background: reporter/lawyer/corporate wonk/digital general manager at CNN/startup that sold. Better than just some arrogant digital guy in here.

  19. Resnick is gone, if he hasn't left already. I applaud the move to bring in an outsider, but it's clear that Payne swung for the fences looking for a big exit payday then sought shelter when AdGent bought STM for a song (forgive the mixed metaphors). I would have been more impressed if the CDO was a digital media success who didn't come from the legacy media world. Same challenge exists - will Payne have legitimate authority to make massive changes quickly, or will he have to kowtow to digital amateurs just to upgrade the CMS to 2007 standards?

  20. Who does Payne report to -- Dubow, or Martore? (Release says they "jointly announced.")

    What about Banikarim? Martore? (Monday's release had Martore announcing.)

  21. He was a federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia, a notoriously political district. He must be a Clinton Democrat because he worked there 1990-93. I thought corporate was Republican.

  22. Solidly GOP. Dubow prizes a picture of him shaking hands with George W. Bush. Politics may be why he's not on the GMC.

  23. Could a couple of you guys stop writing comments long enough to read the first graph of the release re: GMC.

  24. So, as Gracia was negotiating with Rob Gatto and the rest of the PointRoll management team, she left out one minor detail and that was..."Hey, in a few weeks you will have a new boss".

    Now the PointRoll management team is disgusted by this choice. Clearly he does not know the advertiser and agency clients. His ShortTail media was a train wreck (according to many PointRoll'rs).

    Good luck David Payne! I am sure the PointRoll management team (which are being guaranteed millions for 2011) were really happy to learn about your appointment by reading THIS blog!!!!

  25. 6:21 Pointroll, who cares if Payne knows the advertisers. You now have Banikiram to run NATIONAL AD SALES. She will be the SALES CHIEF at Gannett. Get it? Of course she will oversee the brand and the research but with one goal in mind: to increase national sales revenue.

  26. His legal background may help prevent all the slimy, unethical behavior of GCI.
    Good Luck David Payne and know you are
    now being throw into a den of voracious vipers.

  27. Let's hope that this new arrival signals the beginning of departures for Dubow, Martore & Co.

  28. Anonymous said... westchester site it is sad to say AD DESIGN DET day are null 4 laid off last week. and new system take affect in march and 10-15 people left. and 75-90 night drivers to be cut at the of end march doom day and a nutshell.

  29. Gee, how does this not surprise me!:

    Dubow prizes a picture of him shaking hands with George W. Bush

  30. 7:21 wrote: "Let's hope that this new arrival signals the beginning of departures for Dubow, Martore & Co."

    If that is the case, then Payne would be dumb, indeed: He's not coming to work for Martore if he thinks she's about to head for the door. Ditto for the new marketing chief, Maryam Banikarim.

    Now, Dubow is another matter . . .

  31. 4:13pm, You're way off base. I don't know Mr. Payne but I do know a touch of recent political history: Clinton was elected in '92 and took office in '93, when Payne exited. Let's see, who could have been president in 1990? Was it a Republican, maybe,named Bush? And weren't his DoJ appointees mostly Republicans too? So how do you conclude he's a Clinton Democrat? Sheesh.

    I don't know anything about the guy but wish him well.

  32. Jim's lost it. I see no journalism experience and I'm pretty sure his experience classifies as big time operational experience.


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