Mystery: Who are these new digital ad sales hires?

That question’s been coming up lately — most recently today, when a reader said in a comment: “Are these hybrid-looking jobs Gannett is posting a new thing? I’m talking about the positions posted for selling CareerBuilder and cars.com products that are popping up as US Community Publishing job postings.”

Based on that and other comments, it looks like Gannett is now staffing up a separate online advertising sales force assigned to some or all the newspapers. Presumably, they’ll have a different commission pay structure. The hiring would be in line with the company’s plans to sell advertising across all its newspaper websites, now that they’ve adopted the same templates.

But here’s what’s intriguing, another reader told me in an e-mail: “They don’t report to the normal boss for such ad reps, but directly to a vice president, and ultimately directly to Corporate — or so I was told by someone in advertising. They were also hired by Corporate, not through the papers.”

There have been signs of this new hiring at least as far back as Oct. 28, when newspaper division President Bob Dickey announced a 10% workforce reduction. That day, a reader said in a comment they’d heard Gannett had hired 60 new online sales specialists. Moments later, another reader replied: “Yes, it’s true. Their mission is to target advertisers that have not advertised in the last 90 days. They are outside of the normal chain of command and report directly to Corporate online.”

Maybe this separate digital sales force was always in the works? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: today’s Detroit Free Press, Newseum. The daily is in one of Gannett’s biggest markets — an area being further decimated by the auto industry’s plunging sales. General Motors’ shares dived this morning, the Freep is now reporting]

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