Deals service Scoutmob launched an update to its mobile application yesterday, adding a hyperlocal content layer to run along side its selection of local offers. Though the content is currently presented en masse on a separate tab, the company says it plans to tag the content with location data and layer it across the same mapping interface that displays deals.
Amid a wave of consolidation that is pressing many deals companies to scale back or close shop, Scoutmob is pressing forward. The addition of a content layer marks a big step for the Atlanta-based company as it transitions beyond the deals business into the broader local guide/discovery market currently dominated by a handful of location-based applications like Foursquare and Yelp.
“We’ve always known that this content was going to make its way to our mobile app as we become a player in the local mobile space,” Scoutmob CEO Michael Tavani told Street Fight in an email. “We’re not aiming for this content to overtake the local alt-weeklies. It’s meant to dig up some neat curiosities that keep people in the loop on their local neighborhoods.”
Given that sites like Daily Candy and Gilt have built editorial products to complement their commerce business and build brand recognition on a local level, it seems that the integration of content and commerce is becoming table stakes for the local commerce space. White label platforms like Tippr and Group Commerce are working in the opposite direction, enabling both local and nation media brands like the New York Times and Thrillist to launch group-buying features as well.
Tavani says that with a full-time editor in each market, the company has been able to scale the content fairly quickly. Although he says that the company has not considered a media partnership with existing local media entities, a future agreement with a nationally-scaled player like Patch could provide the density and reach necessary as the company expands in smaller markets.
“Local content will be a tough nut to crack in terms of monetization,” said Tavani about the possibilities for the development of fully intergrated media/commerce model. “It’s our view that it’s a great brand enhancer and strengthens a connection with a user base but on its own paired with commerce will be difficult.”
More immediately, Scoutmob’s content is another indication of an accelerating convergence of the local information, geo-social, and deals spaces. With Foursquare and Yelp already competing directly, the addition of local commerce to the race is imminent. What makes this particularly interesting is that Foursquare partners with handful of deals companies, Scoutmob included, to syndicate offers.
“This space is converging so quickly and all the players are overlapping,” said Tavani. “We’ve built a healthy, sustainable business with commerce and revenue built directly into the core of our offering. We won’t have to layer on revenue later on to make this a real business. That’s probably the biggest difference.”
Steven Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.