Commentary | Street Fight - Part 94

Hyperlocal Post-Mortem: Lessons Learned From InJersey

Ted Mann

Hyperlocal Post-Mortem: Lessons Learned From InJersey

When we made the decision this week to shutter InJersey.com — a network of hyperlocal sites across the garden state that I helped build, nurture, and raise like a child -—my biggest fear was that the effort would be branded a failure. In the age of Twitter, I was braced for the #epicfail hashtag. It came instead via Slate, in the form of a Jack Shafer missive…

Google+ is Part of Something Bigger — Much Bigger

Alex Salkever

Google+ is Part of Something Bigger — Much Bigger

The much-ballyhooed launch this week of Google+, a social network that was created to go up against Facebook, has drawn tons of media attention. What most pundits seemed to miss in the all the noise is that Google is smartly positioning itself as a one-stop-shop for multiple facets of local advertising, all sold through its automated self-service sales machine. What’s more, they should all feed off each other…

The ‘Wishes and Dreams’ of Hyperlocal News Consumers

Tom Grubisich

The ‘Wishes and Dreams’ of Hyperlocal News Consumers

The data explosion offers plentiful opportunities to develop new news. But to blend that data into a compelling content cocktail, hyperlocals have to be continually innovative, and that’s not happening. Social networking is a big part of the new news, but it is nowhere near connecting to the user’s meaningful preferences…

Inside National Public Radio’s Play for Local Online

Rick Robinson

Inside National Public Radio’s Play for Local Online

I’ve been writing about large media brands and their hyperlocal efforts for the past few weeks, looking at Gannett, Tribune and PBS for example. Balancing things out with another not-exactly-for-profit property, I recently asked NPR’s digital services GM, Robert Kempf, to talk about his organization’s forays into hyperlocal…

Hyperlocal’s Automated Future

Alex Salkever

Hyperlocal’s Automated Future

At the hyperlocal level, the value is in the information, not the presentation. You read the local to learn, above all, what’s going on in your town or your nabe. If a computer can help collate and present that to you in a more digestible fashion, more the better. Will this kill the community journalist? I doubt it. The journalist still must be present.

Taking ‘Broccoli Journalism’ Hyperlocal

Tom Grubisich

Taking ‘Broccoli Journalism’ Hyperlocal

Mediameister Jeff Jarvis is the pluperfect phrasemaker. “There’s no why there,” he memorably summed up the Mark Zuckerberg-Facebook biopic The Social Network. But I wish his jibe about “broccoli journalism” didn’t prove so hardy. Jarvis coined the phrase in 2009 – in an attack on a report calling for federal subsidies to prop up the cost of reporting “serious” news stories…

Gannett Casts About in Local, Expands ‘Deal Chicken’

Rick Robinson

Gannett Casts About in Local, Expands ‘Deal Chicken’

Why did the chicken cross the road? Apparently, deals were on the other side. Gannett is an enormous company with over 50,000 employees managing scores of properties that include hundreds of national and local Web sites, print publications, marketing consultancies, a careers site, not to mention a little thing called USA Today. It’s the typical corporate megalith trying to hold onto customers from the old world as they lurch headlong toward the future, simultaneously ramping up some divisions while laying off hundreds elsewhere…

Surveys All Say: Hyperlocal’s Taking Over Ad Spending. Duh.

Laura Rich

Surveys All Say: Hyperlocal’s Taking Over Ad Spending. Duh.

A new survey released this week by the hyperlocal network Topix says what is increasingly clear in every new data that emerges: ad dollars are shifting to local, and of that, most are going online. The Topix survey of ad agencies found 90% said they are buying more local ads (“geographically-targeted”) than they ever have.

Google Offers: Not a ‘Groupon Killer’ (But Still Pretty Killer)

Mike Boland

Google Offers: Not a ‘Groupon Killer’ (But Still Pretty Killer)

It’s been widely reported over the past few weeks that Google has launched a deals platform known as Offers. But most of this coverage has missed the point — falling into the tired but pervasive trope of “[insertnamehere] Killer” claims (in this case, Groupon). Offers will be similar to Groupon in some ways, but its economics and mobile integration are quite different. Comparisons aside, the real story is how Offers plugs into Google’s massive distribution network of search, Gmail, mobile and about 26 other products.

Post-IPO, Will Pandora Go Hyperlocal?

Alex Salkever

Post-IPO, Will Pandora Go Hyperlocal?

Over a year ago I got a chance to sit down with Pandora founder Tim Westergren for a long interview about the company. In our conversation about business models and Pandora, the most compelling feature he discussed was a hyperlocal, blue-sky idea that sounded incredibly cool. It left me thinking back then that Pandora could become a hyperlocal powerhouse when that ad market developed…

Social Purpose Hyperlocals: Go for Gumption

Tom Grubisich

Social Purpose Hyperlocals: Go for Gumption

Grand Rapids, Mich., was decreed to be “dying” in January. The report, by Mainstreet.com, turned out to be greatly exaggerated. But exactly how healthy is the “Office Furniture Capital of the World,” the second largest city in a state that has been reeling economically since before the great recession? To find out, I went to The Rapidian, which bills itself as “a hyperlocal news source powered by the people of Grand Rapids.”

TribLocal Quietly Blooms to 88 Hyperlocal Sites — And Growing

Rick Robinson

TribLocal Quietly Blooms to 88 Hyperlocal Sites — And Growing

Tribune Company has long demonstrated its interest in reaching people on a local level — whether it’s through the company’s many local TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, their classifieds products or even their digital subsidiaries. The company was far ahead of other media in the early ’90s when they pushed content out over AOL and then the Web. And over the years they’ve also partnered with a number of local online efforts like Digital City. While that experience might be useful to carry over from Local 1.0, the fact is nobody from that period is present today at TribLocal, a relatively new (2007) effort that has online and sites and weekly print companions sprouting up in Chicago neighborhoods like colorful, polished digital plumes…

Hyperlocal Case Study: Efficiency, Aggregation, and Profit

Ken Hawkins

Hyperlocal Case Study: Efficiency, Aggregation, and Profit

There’s one thing every publisher of a local news site knows: making enough ad dollars to get paid is hard. In fact it’s really hard. But it’s been my experience that if we look at why the Web is so dang good, we can make the struggle to keep the lights on a stiff hike rather than a mountain climb. At TheDigitel, which I founded in 2008 to offer a central place for hyperlocal coverage in Charleston, S.C., we’ve managed to carve out a niche among a saturated market (we have several conventional media outlets and a vibrant local blog and Twitter community) by taking an evolving approach to creating content and winning advertisers…

Using Mobile Inventory Data to Drive Foot Traffic

Nitin Gupta

Using Mobile Inventory Data to Drive Foot Traffic

It’s no secret that local brick and mortar retailers have been heavily competing with online shopping for years now. So, how do these stores stay competitive in an environment where Amazon offers free shipping, no taxes, and consumers can shop from the comfort of their own home? In other words: how do retailers localize their presence, stand out from the crowd and bring shoppers right to their front door?…

Patch’s Main Problem? Paltry Pay

Alex Salkever

Patch’s Main Problem? Paltry Pay

When I was working at AOL a few years back, the recruiter for Patch.com came through the West Coast offices and I spoke to her a bit about building out the fast-growing hyperlocal news blog company that is something of a bet-the-future venture for AOL chief Tim Armstrong and company (along with HuffPo). The recruiter was very nice and gave me the pitch so I could pass on to friends. Included in the pitch was a plug for the compensation: Top regional editors were going to make $70k or so. Local Patch bloggers would make a whole lot less. This seemed like a great wage – for North Dakota. In the Bay Area? $70k is just above entry level for lots of tech sector jobs. Which led me to wonder, would Patch be able to pull in quality people to make the network worthwhile?..

The F.C.C. Solution for Community News is So Last Century

Tom Grubisich

The F.C.C. Solution for Community News is So Last Century

The new and much-quoted F.C.C. report on “Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a BroadBand Age” is massive and well written, and its authors did their due diligence by holding workshops whose testimony from an array of media experts fills 711 pages. But the report’s back-to-the-future prescription for community news in the digital era is a big disappointment.

The report’s most fraught conclusion, and the one getting the most published attention:

“…in many communities, we now face a shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting. This is likely to lead to the kinds of problems that are, not surprisingly, associated with a lack of accountability—more government waste, more local corruption, less effective schools, and other serious community problems. The independent watchdog function that the Founding Fathers envisioned for journalism—going so far as to call it crucial to a healthy democracy—is in some cases at risk at the local level.”

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Why Hyperlocals Are Missing Out on Engagement

Tom Grubisich

Why Hyperlocals Are Missing Out on Engagement

“Engagement,” just about everyone agrees, is a must, especially for news websites, most especially hyperlocals. But engagement metrics for news – even allowing for sometimes wildly conflicting numbers produced from different methodologies – are mostly grim. The average Facebook user spends a half hour-plus on that paragon of digital engagement. News sites get minutes that can be counted on one hand. Taking into account murky Web analytics, only a fraction of that time – about three minutes for most hyperlocal news sites, according to Alexa – represents engagement where the site has captured the user’s undivided attention…

Location Obsessives Beware: You May Never Leave Your Screens

Rick Robinson

Location Obsessives Beware: You May Never Leave Your Screens

For years I’ve been fascinated with digitized maps and the spell they can cast. To see where we’re going, where we’ve been, where we could have gone — to become found when lost and undiscoverable when seeking silence – digital maps lead us to all these things, and away from some. The perfect companion. And since the map interface has jumped from atoms to bits, lighting up pixels of core applications on nearly every device stamped out by innovators of sleek glass and steel to copycats of affordable utility (just about all phones now carry mapping apps), almost everyone can play along…

Police Scanners and Speculation = Necessary Hyperlocal Journalism?

The Editors

Police Scanners and Speculation = Necessary Hyperlocal Journalism?

A lively discussion erupted yesterday in the comments section of Street Fight’s interview with B-Town Blog’s Scott Schaefer. At issue: Schaefer’s suggestion that sites did their communities disservice by reporting on rumors and information that comes over the transom via unconfirmed rumors and police scanner reports… Among those taking issue were The Batavian’s Howard Owens, who wrote: “When you don’t do scanner reports, you’re missing a key to audience growth and retention, and I think abandoning your ethical obligation as a real-time news service to keep readers fully informed.”…

Foursquare, Groupon, and the Market-Making Problem

Niel Robertson

Foursquare, Groupon, and the Market-Making Problem

With Groupon’s filing to go public last week, there has been even more debate over the two-sided market strategy of consumers and local merchants. Another business that has focused on this approach is Foursquare. Is the window of opportunity closing for Foursquare to become the breakout success it could be? The answer depends on how much the company is willing to change its DNA to serve both sides of their market — and perhaps take a few lessons on self-serve and average selling price from Groupon…