A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology.
Amid Postmortems, AOL Says Patch Is Still Alive (Businessweek)
You know a tech business is in trouble when it begins declaring that reports of its death are greatly exaggerated. Yesterday, it was AOL’s turn to announce to anyone who would listen that its hyperlocal news network Patch is still not yet dead. Buzz Machine: Hyperlocal works in town after town. What doesn’t work is trying to instantly scale it by trying to own every town in sight. That was Patch’s fatal error: acting like an old-media company, writes Jeff Jarvis. GigaOm: Armstrong’s solution to this hyper-local conundrum was fatally flawed because it is an inherently industrialized approach to what isn’t an industrial problem, writes Mathew Ingram. Forbes: If there was one mistake that doomed Patch above all the others, it was the decision to ramp up the size of the operation so rapidly, in the absence of any business results to justify doing so, writes Jeff Bercovici.
In-Store Tracking — Privacy Intrusion or Communications Problem? (Street Fight)
Myriah Towner: As the web continues to expand beyond the desktop, it is infusing itself into the parts of our lives which we’ve traditionally viewed as offline and out of reach, creating an uneasiness among consumers. The question for the technology community is whether users’ fears represent a material resistance by a weary market or natural lag between their concern and the recognition of the value of location tracking which these services will eventually produce..
Amazon Reportedly Buys Mobile Payments Startup Gopago, Working On An ‘Ambitious’ New Project (TechCrunch)
Looks like Amazon may have quietly made another acquisition, and another move to expand its role in the world of mobile: Italian newspapers are reporting that the e-commerce giant has acquired Gopago, a startup that offers consumers an iOS or Android mobile app to pre-pay for goods before picking them up at a store, and retailers a point-of-sale system to process those orders and more.
5 Mobile Ad Tools for Very Small Businesses (Street Fight)
Why should the big guys get to have all the fun? When it comes to mobile advertising, most vendors are still targeting their offerings at major brands and brick-and-mortar chains. However, a growing number of hyperlocal vendors are beginning to develop mobile ad products aimed squarely at the small business community.
Customers Out in the Cold Balk at Uber Surge Pricing (New York Times)
Nick Bilton: Sam Biddle, a blogger for Valleywag, noted that during a heavy snowstorm in New York City on Saturday, Uber raised its prices to as much as seven times a normal fare, charging customers $35 per mile with a minimum of $175 per trip. In other words, if you wanted to go a block, you would have to pay $175.
Can LivingSocial Bounce Back? (AdWeek)
After 13 years at retailer Best Buy, Barry Judge last February joined LivingSocial as marketing chief, right around the time the daily-deals site looked like a sinking ship. Industry watchers questioned the 6-year-old company’s ability to find cash as they also wondered about its relevancy among Web-deals-weary consumers.
MasterCard Big Data division To Build Restaurant Reviews Site Built On Customer Payment Data (Fixetra)
MasterCard is looking to mine its trove of customer card payment data to build a site which will provide global travellers with a ranking of popular restaurant destinations in cities worldwide. Cristobel von Walstrom, vice president, MasterCard Advisors Information Services says the site will run on purchasing beahviour, “that is, how people are voting for restaurants with their wallets.”
The Hyperlocal Web Bleeds as AOL Pushes Patch to the Curb (Wired)
Ryan Tate: Though endlessly hailed as a huge opportunity, local online media has largely turned into a vortex of failure and disappointment. As failures pile up, you have to wonder how other high-profile startups will ever find ways of wringing big profits from what has proven to be a decidedly low-margin and slow-moving market.
Better Location Data = Better Witnesses To News (Nieman Journalism Lab)
If you are standing in front of a plane crash wearing a torn pilot’s uniform, reporters would be justified in asking you questions about what happened. If you tweet about being onboard or seeing the plane come down, it’s extremely hard to know whether or not to believe you, because it’s so hard to know if you’re actually there. In 2014, expect both technology and attitudes to shift to make determining proximity to news events far, far easier.
62% Of Marketers Say Local Search Is Getting Harder (SearchEngineLand)
In a recent study, the majority of respondents believe that local search marketing is getting harder. Certainly local search is becoming more complex and more difficult to stay on top of. Regular product updates, algorithm changes, and increasing mobile search usage (to name just a few factors) mean we work in one of the most fluid industries around.
Think Local News Is dying? This Blogger Says There’s A ‘Glut’ Of Coverage In D.C. (Washington Post)
Is local news dying? That’s the conventional view, bolstered by rumors that AOL is on the verge of shutting down its local news arm, Patch. One of the optimists is Dan Silverman, founder of Washington’s popular Prince of Petworth blog. Thanks to a mix of traditional news outlets and upstarts like his own blog, Silverman says, the D.C. area has a “glut” of local coverage.