MCLEAN, Va. – Gannett, which owns USA TODAY and 109 local media properties including the Pensacola News Journal, has named a Pensacola native as the new head of its USA TODAY Network marketing solutions unit.
Kevin Gentzel, who became the media company’s first chief revenue officer in 2015, has been named president of USA TODAY Network Marketing Solutions, effective Jan. 26, the company said Monday. Gentzel is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School.
He will replace Sharon Rowlands, who is leaving the company to become CEO of web.com, said Robert J. Dickey, President and CEO of Gannett. Rowlands, who was named to the position in November 2017 had been the CEO of ReachLocal since 2014 and came to Gannett when the media company acquired the local online marketing firm in 2016.
Gentzel has overseen all of Gannett’s advertising and marketing solutions revenue in North America, including national sales, the company’s GET Creative branded content studio and revenue operations, as well as local sales and sales support teams.
Dickey also announced that chief product officer Kris Barton will now report to him with expanded duties overseeing search engine marketing provider WordStream and location and reputation management service SweetIQ. Barton, who was named Gannett’s chief product officer in 2017, had been ReachLocal’s chief product officer since February 2012.
Barton will continue to oversee and direct strategy and innovation of product and technologies for Gannett’s consumer content and its business-to-business advertising and marketing solutions, Dickey said.
In September 2018, the USA TODAY Network launched LOCALiQ, which uses SweetIQ and Wordstream, along with ReachLocal, to forge an end-to-end digital marketing and advertising service for clients, small and large, nationwide.
“Kevin and Kris are proven leaders who have been instrumental in advancing our digital transformation and positioning Gannett as a leader in advertising and marketing services solutions,” Dickey said in a statement. “Under Kevin’s leadership, our digital marketing services business has thrived, consistently delivering strong revenue growth. As chief product officer, Kris has demonstrated a dedication to delivering excellence every day for our readers, business partners and other stakeholders. I am confident they will continue to drive the company’s future success.”
Before coming to Gannett, Gentzel was head of advertising sales in North America at Yahoo. He previously was chief revenue officer at The Washington Post and at Forbes Media.
“I am excited to take on this new role overseeing the company’s marketing solutions organization,” Gentzel said in a statement. “Following a year of rapid transformation, 2019 is a very important year for us as we seek to continue the growth of our national business … and execute on our mission of being absolutely essential to all of our partner clients.”
Barton said, “As part of our commitment to create compelling content and value for Gannett customers, I look forward to continuing to advance the innovative products and services that are driving the digital transformation of our media properties across the USA TODAY Network as well as our advertising and marketing solutions for businesses.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.