Gannett (NYSE: GCI) USA Today has acquired Reviewed.com, a group of 12 product-review websites. The site provides in-depth, long takes on digital cameras, camcorders and high def televisions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Robin Liss, Reviewed.com’s founder and CEO, will remain at the head of the Boston-based site.
The purchase comes a few months after USAT’s major reorg, that included over 100 layoffs and reoriented its news operations around “content rings” instead of its four traditional departments of news, money, life and sports.
In a statement, Dave Hunke, USAT’s president and publisher, described the move as part of the paper’s integrated consumer media strategy. For the past year, Gannett has also been trying to provide more more marketing programs for advertisers outside of direct sponsorships of its content.
The Reviewed.com network includes: DigitalCameraInfo.com, TelevisionInfo.com, CamcorderInfo.com, PrinterInfo.com, HeadphoneInfo.com, and WireslessInfo.com as well as international editions. The network clams to reach an average of 1,000,000 monthly unique readers.
Aside from being pretty specific about the kinds of products it focuses on, Reviewed.com is also known for subjecting products to a series of tests that include “lab quality imaging, acoustic and display testing equipment,” as opposed to yet another opinions site.
In an interview with paidContent, Liss said that the two sides are still talking about how Reviewed.com’s content will be integrated into USAT. Among the plans she has for Reviewed.com, which grew out of a blog Liss started about her interest in camcorders when she was 13, includes expanding globally and adding more product areas.
Although USAT sees Reviewed.com as a good opportunity for growing its integrated marketing offerings, Liss said that she has complete faith in the company’s intention to maintain its editorial integrity. “[USAT's] Dave Hunke shares the passion I have for quality, unbiased editorial,” Liss said. “I feel incredibly comfortable with their ethics.”
She also noted that the site network has never taken on any venture capital funding. Reviewed.com did get representation on the deal from media investment bank Mesa Global.
Updated: In an e-mail exchange, I asked Hunke why USAT would want to buy a site network as opposed to merely syndicating its content. Hunke responded, “While we were excited about the current content and audience at Reviewed.com, Robin and her team have a very exciting and far reaching vision to create a number of new publications in the immediate future. We felt it made a great deal of sense to develop these from within the USA Today brand portfolio.”
He also said that now that USAT owns it, Reviewed.com’s content will be offered to all of Gannett’s 81 local newspapers. Reviewed .com and its publications will remain separate, he added, saying, “However, we will immediately begin looking for integration opportunities to scale audience within a subject area, or vertical, where it makes sense for advertising clients.”