Datasphere's Cowan: Hitting the Hyperlocal 'Sweet Spot' | Street Fight

Datasphere’s Cowan: Hitting the Hyperlocal ‘Sweet Spot’

Datasphere’s Cowan: Hitting the Hyperlocal ‘Sweet Spot’

Hyperlocal blog platform Datasphere Technologies has been growing at a rapid clip over the past year. Last fall the company raised $10 million in a third round of funding, and it has added partnerships with Gannett and others. The company’s technology allows established local media players create hyperlocal websites so that they can push their content to specific neighborhoods and towns. The idea is to leverage aggregation and news that has already been produced by these stations, and collect it in a vehicle to attract small local advertisers.

Street Fight recently spoke with Gary Cowan, the company’s SVP of product and marketing (who will be joining us at the Street Fight Summit in October) about the company’s content strategy, the future of the banner ad, and why Datasphere’s sites aren’t “cookie cutter.”

Tell me a little about what Datasphere does and how your content strategy works.
Datasphere’s focus is on working with established media companies to open up the small business market to them. Our specialty is in creating and monetizing ad placements that are focused on small local businesses.

We started with Fisher Communications — they have a dozen or so TV stations up here in the Northwest. As part of our relationship with them, we built out a network of neighborhood level websites. Here in Seattle we have 54 neighborhood-level websites. We split out the regional market into a patchwork quilt, if you will, of neighborhoods and allow our media partners to publish news that’s relevant to those individual neighborhoods.

The challenge is that there’s news relevant at a neighborhood level about what businesses are opening and closing, what’s going on at the library, that has no interest at the regional level. TV stations, newspapers, and folks like that have a big advantage in that they have a constant stream of inbound press releases and requests for exposure and so forth from these small local organizations. About 80% of that falls on the ground because they can’t make any use of it. It’s just not relevant at a regional level.

By providing this network of neighborhood sites which we power and host on their behalf, we provide an area where that content can be used.

Part of the challenge of hyperlocal has been trying to figure out how to make it cost-efficient enough for sites to solicit ads from small local advertisers. How do you negotiate that?
When we look at the market we see a spectrum. On one end, you have this purely automated aggregation-type model along the lines of Outside.in or Topix, or something like that. Then on the other end of the spectrum you have this heavy, expensive, manual model which is more like the Patch model, that is, in effect, a couple of dedicated heads per neighborhood site.

At one extreme, your costs are very high, so you better figure out how to monetize it quickly. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got an experience is not that compelling, so the costs are low — you don’t have to make as much money, but it’s going to be difficult for a site like that to become the center of a neighborhood community.

So, what we’re trying to do is pick the sweet spot in between those, and leverage partners who have access to content. We help them with aggregating other content that’s relevant to that neighborhood and so forth. So, we create a product compelling to local neighborhoods, but in addition to that we go out and provide the sales team that goes out and monetizes it.

Tell me why a New York website needs a different layout than a Los Angeles? What is so fundamentally different between those two markets that you would want a layout that’s completely different?

How difficult is aggregation in small markets? For a lot of places without much other media, there isn’t that much to aggregate.
It does vary significantly depending on the particular market. There’s areas where there’s a lot of other content delivered. For example, if you’re in the Seattle area there’s a bunch of interesting, local sources of content that we make use of. Obviously, we direct traffic back to them. So it really is an ecosystem — it’s not a one-way flow at all.

But in other areas there’s less of that, so you make use of what’s there. If it’s not there, then you work harder in terms of generating original content and there will be more expense involved.

A lot of indie hyperlocals feel strongly that larger corporations can’t really connect with local communities if they come into markets and recreate sites on a cookie cutter. What’s your response to that?
We have great respect for the folks out there doing individual neighborhood blogs. There’s a lot of great sites out there and we have learned a lot from them. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

People throw out the word, “cookie cutter,” but what does that actually mean? Does it mean you have a website laid out in a way that makes sense and you use that layout across the board? Tell me why a New York website needs a different layout than a Los Angeles? What is so fundamentally different between those two markets that you would want a layout that’s completely different? That’s the only thing I can draw from the cookie cutter comment, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Why would you recreate the wheel and spend a lot of time having nonstandard layouts when certain layouts are more effective than others? I’d flip it around and say that having a consistent layout and experience is something that helps people from multiple perspectives.

One is it keeps the cost of the technology down and it allows you to advertise it across a large number of sites. The other thing is much like many other businesses have found, people may have a desire to look at different sites, maybe work versus home, and if there’s a consistent layout and experience, they know where to look for things across those different sites.

From an economics perspective, the benefit we have here is these local news organizations [that we work with] are already heavily investing in generating content, and they have a brand that attracts in bound submissions of press releases, and other sources of content. So, leveraging that once again allows you to amortize the cost of creating content across a much broader basis from which to generate revenue. It just makes all the economic sense in the world.

The other thing is, when you look at the challenges of running a small local blog as one off that is a standalone small local business. So, the people who run it have to be capable of not only generating the content, but also going out and selling ads, and so forth. That’s a hard thing to do. Once again congratulations to those people that are doing it. But we offer the chance to focus on what they do best, which is generate content associated with those neighborhoods, and we’ll provide them with dedicated people who enjoy what they do and they are very effective at selling to those local businesses.

Looking forward to next year and the presidential election, how much do you anticipate political advertising will be directed to hyperlocal-level sites?
We are still working on the specifics of that model. One of the differences between political advertising and the standard advertising model was that political advertising has an end date. So, when you’re selling advertising into that market, you have to be cognisant that, unlike an ongoing advertising program here, it’s going to be a specific chunk of advertising.

We will have ad packages specifically targeted at political candidates and incumbents, but it will be an add-on strategy. Not, “Oh, look we expect a replacement of 20% to 30% of our ad dollars by political.” This will be an add-on on top of what we’re doing.

Do you think straight banner advertising will work for hyperlocal business models? How necessary are other sponsorship or events businesses for local sites. Can on-site advertising really hold the day for smaller community sites?
I think it’s always going to be a combination. I think it will be a question of what the mix is rather than one or the other. There’s no question that there is a place for those sponsorship models, because there will be advertising which benefits in terms of brand association and all of that that you can’t necessarily quantify by number of clicks and so on.
The other thing frankly is a lot of the matrixes used by certain types of ad placements like CPCs and so on are just not relevant to small, local businesses. So, we see that the ad banners are going to continue and continue to be a strong aspect of the marketing and sponsorship type basis. But I do think there will be a strong evolving component of direct result advertising.

You already see that in the market today. It may not be with the one advertiser, it may not be media company X offers the portfolio of different kinds of things, but clearly they are out there and exist, everything from SEM to Groupon, if you will, where you have a great performance matrix associated that. Are people going to migrate more to that? Probably to some extent over time.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

22 thoughts on “Datasphere’s Cowan: Hitting the Hyperlocal ‘Sweet Spot’

  1. I respect the tech. But the boiler room ad sales and disregard for news quality do not impress. “A constant stream of inbound press releases and requests for exposure” won’t build an audience. Proof? Go visit the ghost town sites “powered” by Datasphere here in Seattle. Lonely, empty experience. Who would want to associate their business with that?

    1. Apparently thousands of business owners would like to associate their business with DataSphere. That’s why Datasphere Technologies is on the Top Best 100 Places to work in Seattle. And as for your “Boiler Room Ad Sales” Remark… Have you ever even been into Datasphere’s offices? The energy is AWESOME. Happy workers bring more business.

      1. Actually, those businesses are choosing to associate with 1. their local neighborhood and 2. a local TV station that Datashpere uses as a front to sell their wares.

        With a name as sweet and grass-roots sounding as Datasphere I doubt many local SMB’s would do business without the names of local TV partners.

        Also, for the record, boiler rooms can be very nice looking – wall street is full of them. I think the comment was really about the very non-local sales tactics employed. They are efficient but I’ll stick to footwork for our operation.

        1. Ben – it seems like you are still struggling to understand the relationship between DataSphere and its partners. Here it is again. DataSphere provides technology and sales to help established media companies deliver more targeted neighborhood-level news in a way that means they can actualy make money by doing it.

          To characterize their media partners as nothing but dupes that are “used” by DataSphere is a gross and unjustfied  insult to a significant number of very established and sophisticated organizations who are deeply interested in both protecting their brands and providing increased levels of service to their communities. They see an unmet need that can best be addressed quickly and effectively by working with a competent, proven third party who can bring to bear not only best practices from around the country but also provide a level of technological sophistication that cannot be cost justified on a smaller scale.

          Of course as a wise man once said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

        2. Ben – it seems like you are still struggling to understand the relationship between DataSphere and its partners. Here it is again. DataSphere provides technology and sales to help established media companies deliver more targeted neighborhood-level news in a way that means they can actualy make money by doing it.

          To characterize their media partners as nothing but dupes that are “used” by DataSphere is a gross and unjustfied  insult to a significant number of very established and sophisticated organizations who are deeply interested in both protecting their brands and providing increased levels of service to their communities. They see an unmet need that can best be addressed quickly and effectively by working with a competent, proven third party who can bring to bear not only best practices from around the country but also provide a level of technological sophistication that cannot be cost justified on a smaller scale.

          Of course as a wise man once said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

          1. Please describe the “sales assistance” and prove me wrong.

            This is what I know of the process. If there is something I am missing please inform me. I am willing to change my views. I have before, certainly and I can again given the right information.

            Who sells the ads to whom? Is it ever done under the banner of Datasphere at the local level?

            And so you know, my salary does not depend on ignorance. We have built some great relationships with local media and consider most to be great potential collaborators.

          2. Thanks for your response and question Ben. The best way to think of DataSphere is as a service provider to the media companies. DataSphere acts on their behalf.

            DataSphere provides a service to media companies in the same way as hundreds of other service providers. In terms of the sales side of the operation, the best way to think of it is as an extension of the media company’s own team – a specialized team optimized to work with a large number of smaller clients, in contrast to the smaller teams usually in place to target a smaller number of large regional advertisers.

            So DataSphere becomes a valued extension of the media companies sales channel strategy. DataSphere is selling *on behalf of the media companies* and selling advertising on the media companies’ sites. So the DataSphere brand is irrelevant in this context. This is a standard practice across many industries from telecom to charity fundraising – companies often make use of external partners to supplement their own sales teams, and such arrangements are pretty much always based around the brand of the company that owns the asset or service being sold.

            I hope that helps set context.

          3. Actually, it does set the context. Thank you for the clear and thoughtful response.

            As a publisher and entrepreneur I see the potential value.

            I can also see potential problems with this strategy for the local media outlets as their brand is now tied to the experience Datasphere sites create.

            All the more reason to increase the quality of content and hopefully invest in healthy hyperlocal media ecosystems.

            Lastly, I may be a tough critic, but I truly applaud anyone throwing their hat in the ring in this space. It takes guts and a tough skin.

            At the end of the day, I hope my comments can be as constructive as possible even given the heat of this debate.

    2. It sounds like you have a lot of ideas about what kind of content you would like to see on these community sites. You have specified what you don’t like, what would you like to see? Do the local events not interest you?  I’d suggest that you contact KomoNews and ask to be a community contributor. Maybe you can help build something in your community that does interest you. The world is full of people that just have negative things to say without adding any value. I assume that you are not this type of person and will try to help the situation. These really are community sites and a platform for the community to discover and share. Which community have you shared with?

      1. BCC, if you clicked through to jseattle’s Twitter page, you’d have seen a link to jseattle’s site, http://capitolhillseattle.com/.

    3. It sounds like you have a lot of ideas about what kind of content you would like to see on these community sites. You have specified what you don’t like, what would you like to see? Do the local events not interest you?  I’d suggest that you contact KomoNews and ask to be a community contributor. Maybe you can help build something in your community that does interest you. The world is full of people that just have negative things to say without adding any value. I assume that you are not this type of person and will try to help the situation. These really are community sites and a platform for the community to discover and share. Which community have you shared with?

    4.  So very true! Most of the hyper local traffic comes from the Business owners being taken to these  “neighborhoods” , in addition to the sales reps themselves.

  2. “disregard for news quality”.

    I’m confused, Datasphere provides local news agencies to publish their content online. You “respect the tech” (what Datasphere builds) but hate the content (what your local community provides). 

    Do you have any evidence of local businesses not liking, or not getting a return, on their adverts, or is everything your saying just pulled out of… thin air?

  3.  Datashpere is a joke! Their account executives have potential to  make a lot of money, but business that are persuaded to “try it out” for 6-12 months RARELY see a ROI. In most cases the business owners who are smart, cancel within 90 days and the sales reps end up losing a nice chunk of their commission too.  Great environment to work in, not a boiler room atmosphere. It’s a shame the product is so unsuccessful…..

  4. Wrote a response to “cookie cutter” statement:

    http://macermedia.com/data-sphere-here-is-what-people-mean-by-cooki

    creating 60 pop-up hyper-local sites overnight that all look the same and heavily reuse the same content that is really regional news is what people mean by cookie cutter.

    Also, the draw of local is the fact that people see their different communities as part of their identities. Making everything look the same is fine, but it will not appeal to many.

    But Datasphere really doesn’t have to appeal to many locals. Advertising is sold by phone banks in Seattle for sponsorships of verticals on each “neighborhood” site, not per CPM. Therefore, the more sites the more money. If the site has the same content as another site – who cares? And if people don’t read or engage, no big.

    Now that is an efficient system after all.

    1. Ben – in the interests of full disclosure, you should probably identify yourself as the founder of the Sacramento Press (http://www.sacramentopress.com/user/Ben). You’ve done some really nice work there but in fairness you’re probably not *the* most impartial observer, especially since DataSphere recently entered your market – competition is good right?
      With respect to your “cookie cutter” interpretation, that’s reallty stretching the definition of the term. Cookie cutters determine the form of an object, not the content. I assume you understand that DataSphere is acting purely as a technology platform and sales arm to help established media companies be more effective in serving their local communities. The content published on the sites is wholly under the control of the media companies. While there is undoubtedly variation across different DataSphere partners and locations in terms of the volume of content available, on average there is a lot of fresh unique content, particularly considering that the neighborhood sites serve areas dramatically smaller than Sacramento – check out http://bellevue.komonews.com/ as an example. Only a very small proportion of content may be described as of regional interest.

      1. I am an open book and proud of our work in the industry.

        Also, I welcome the competition because it has the promise to increase the vibrancy of our local media ecosystem.

        I stand by my assessment for now. Datasphere sites might actually be the best possible example of cookie cutter hyper-local.

        The technology provided help spread thin content from TV news stations around many sites that instantly pop-up without any need to tend. I know that each station can go further, but it is not required.

        The sales assistance is a phone bank out of town (unless you are in Seattle) which represents itself as the local TV station.

        The sites are the same, the content is often the same because that is how the technology was designed and the sales strategy is the same.

      2. In the interest of full disclosure, since you are defending the opaque business practices described in the above article, do you have any affiliation with Datasphere, either directly or through a company that uses their services?

        Full Disclosure: I am the co-founder of The Sacramento Press.

  5. This article led to a far more heated conversation than I had expected as I read it. There seems to be a few things missing in this conversation. DataSphere selling the ads is not the issue, many local media folks don’t have the ability to do it on their own and rightfully outsource it, the issue at hand is WHAT is being sold to small business owners and under what pretenses. Assuming things are done ethically, more power to DataSphere and, besides, small business owners often prefer doing business with a live person and a handshake so DataSphere can’t possibly provide this is ‘your’ market.

    On another note, people engage with different media providers for different reasons and with different expectations. A site associated with a TV station will have a very different user base (or a user base after different things) than an organic site or a Patch.com.

    Just as TV, radio, and print coexist in a market so can multiple local web-based resources.

  6. Datasphere is just a churn and burn boiler room, and the blogs they build do very poorly on the search engines. 

    Everything you will read about them is how they help media tap into new revenue streams, however it is obvious that they aren’t very focused on delivering effective advertising or driving real traffic to these lame looking blog sites.

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22 thoughts on “Datasphere’s Cowan: Hitting the Hyperlocal ‘Sweet Spot’

  1. I respect the tech. But the boiler room ad sales and disregard for news quality do not impress. “A constant stream of inbound press releases and requests for exposure” won’t build an audience. Proof? Go visit the ghost town sites “powered” by Datasphere here in Seattle. Lonely, empty experience. Who would want to associate their business with that?

    1. Apparently thousands of business owners would like to associate their business with DataSphere. That’s why Datasphere Technologies is on the Top Best 100 Places to work in Seattle. And as for your “Boiler Room Ad Sales” Remark… Have you ever even been into Datasphere’s offices? The energy is AWESOME. Happy workers bring more business.

      1. Actually, those businesses are choosing to associate with 1. their local neighborhood and 2. a local TV station that Datashpere uses as a front to sell their wares.

        With a name as sweet and grass-roots sounding as Datasphere I doubt many local SMB’s would do business without the names of local TV partners.

        Also, for the record, boiler rooms can be very nice looking – wall street is full of them. I think the comment was really about the very non-local sales tactics employed. They are efficient but I’ll stick to footwork for our operation.

        1. Ben – it seems like you are still struggling to understand the relationship between DataSphere and its partners. Here it is again. DataSphere provides technology and sales to help established media companies deliver more targeted neighborhood-level news in a way that means they can actualy make money by doing it.

          To characterize their media partners as nothing but dupes that are “used” by DataSphere is a gross and unjustfied  insult to a significant number of very established and sophisticated organizations who are deeply interested in both protecting their brands and providing increased levels of service to their communities. They see an unmet need that can best be addressed quickly and effectively by working with a competent, proven third party who can bring to bear not only best practices from around the country but also provide a level of technological sophistication that cannot be cost justified on a smaller scale.

          Of course as a wise man once said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

        2. Ben – it seems like you are still struggling to understand the relationship between DataSphere and its partners. Here it is again. DataSphere provides technology and sales to help established media companies deliver more targeted neighborhood-level news in a way that means they can actualy make money by doing it.

          To characterize their media partners as nothing but dupes that are “used” by DataSphere is a gross and unjustfied  insult to a significant number of very established and sophisticated organizations who are deeply interested in both protecting their brands and providing increased levels of service to their communities. They see an unmet need that can best be addressed quickly and effectively by working with a competent, proven third party who can bring to bear not only best practices from around the country but also provide a level of technological sophistication that cannot be cost justified on a smaller scale.

          Of course as a wise man once said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

          1. Please describe the “sales assistance” and prove me wrong.

            This is what I know of the process. If there is something I am missing please inform me. I am willing to change my views. I have before, certainly and I can again given the right information.

            Who sells the ads to whom? Is it ever done under the banner of Datasphere at the local level?

            And so you know, my salary does not depend on ignorance. We have built some great relationships with local media and consider most to be great potential collaborators.

          2. Thanks for your response and question Ben. The best way to think of DataSphere is as a service provider to the media companies. DataSphere acts on their behalf.

            DataSphere provides a service to media companies in the same way as hundreds of other service providers. In terms of the sales side of the operation, the best way to think of it is as an extension of the media company’s own team – a specialized team optimized to work with a large number of smaller clients, in contrast to the smaller teams usually in place to target a smaller number of large regional advertisers.

            So DataSphere becomes a valued extension of the media companies sales channel strategy. DataSphere is selling *on behalf of the media companies* and selling advertising on the media companies’ sites. So the DataSphere brand is irrelevant in this context. This is a standard practice across many industries from telecom to charity fundraising – companies often make use of external partners to supplement their own sales teams, and such arrangements are pretty much always based around the brand of the company that owns the asset or service being sold.

            I hope that helps set context.

          3. Actually, it does set the context. Thank you for the clear and thoughtful response.

            As a publisher and entrepreneur I see the potential value.

            I can also see potential problems with this strategy for the local media outlets as their brand is now tied to the experience Datasphere sites create.

            All the more reason to increase the quality of content and hopefully invest in healthy hyperlocal media ecosystems.

            Lastly, I may be a tough critic, but I truly applaud anyone throwing their hat in the ring in this space. It takes guts and a tough skin.

            At the end of the day, I hope my comments can be as constructive as possible even given the heat of this debate.

    2. It sounds like you have a lot of ideas about what kind of content you would like to see on these community sites. You have specified what you don’t like, what would you like to see? Do the local events not interest you?  I’d suggest that you contact KomoNews and ask to be a community contributor. Maybe you can help build something in your community that does interest you. The world is full of people that just have negative things to say without adding any value. I assume that you are not this type of person and will try to help the situation. These really are community sites and a platform for the community to discover and share. Which community have you shared with?

      1. BCC, if you clicked through to jseattle’s Twitter page, you’d have seen a link to jseattle’s site, http://capitolhillseattle.com/.

    3. It sounds like you have a lot of ideas about what kind of content you would like to see on these community sites. You have specified what you don’t like, what would you like to see? Do the local events not interest you?  I’d suggest that you contact KomoNews and ask to be a community contributor. Maybe you can help build something in your community that does interest you. The world is full of people that just have negative things to say without adding any value. I assume that you are not this type of person and will try to help the situation. These really are community sites and a platform for the community to discover and share. Which community have you shared with?

    4.  So very true! Most of the hyper local traffic comes from the Business owners being taken to these  “neighborhoods” , in addition to the sales reps themselves.

  2. “disregard for news quality”.

    I’m confused, Datasphere provides local news agencies to publish their content online. You “respect the tech” (what Datasphere builds) but hate the content (what your local community provides). 

    Do you have any evidence of local businesses not liking, or not getting a return, on their adverts, or is everything your saying just pulled out of… thin air?

  3.  Datashpere is a joke! Their account executives have potential to  make a lot of money, but business that are persuaded to “try it out” for 6-12 months RARELY see a ROI. In most cases the business owners who are smart, cancel within 90 days and the sales reps end up losing a nice chunk of their commission too.  Great environment to work in, not a boiler room atmosphere. It’s a shame the product is so unsuccessful…..

  4. Wrote a response to “cookie cutter” statement:

    http://macermedia.com/data-sphere-here-is-what-people-mean-by-cooki

    creating 60 pop-up hyper-local sites overnight that all look the same and heavily reuse the same content that is really regional news is what people mean by cookie cutter.

    Also, the draw of local is the fact that people see their different communities as part of their identities. Making everything look the same is fine, but it will not appeal to many.

    But Datasphere really doesn’t have to appeal to many locals. Advertising is sold by phone banks in Seattle for sponsorships of verticals on each “neighborhood” site, not per CPM. Therefore, the more sites the more money. If the site has the same content as another site – who cares? And if people don’t read or engage, no big.

    Now that is an efficient system after all.

    1. Ben – in the interests of full disclosure, you should probably identify yourself as the founder of the Sacramento Press (http://www.sacramentopress.com/user/Ben). You’ve done some really nice work there but in fairness you’re probably not *the* most impartial observer, especially since DataSphere recently entered your market – competition is good right?
      With respect to your “cookie cutter” interpretation, that’s reallty stretching the definition of the term. Cookie cutters determine the form of an object, not the content. I assume you understand that DataSphere is acting purely as a technology platform and sales arm to help established media companies be more effective in serving their local communities. The content published on the sites is wholly under the control of the media companies. While there is undoubtedly variation across different DataSphere partners and locations in terms of the volume of content available, on average there is a lot of fresh unique content, particularly considering that the neighborhood sites serve areas dramatically smaller than Sacramento – check out http://bellevue.komonews.com/ as an example. Only a very small proportion of content may be described as of regional interest.

      1. I am an open book and proud of our work in the industry.

        Also, I welcome the competition because it has the promise to increase the vibrancy of our local media ecosystem.

        I stand by my assessment for now. Datasphere sites might actually be the best possible example of cookie cutter hyper-local.

        The technology provided help spread thin content from TV news stations around many sites that instantly pop-up without any need to tend. I know that each station can go further, but it is not required.

        The sales assistance is a phone bank out of town (unless you are in Seattle) which represents itself as the local TV station.

        The sites are the same, the content is often the same because that is how the technology was designed and the sales strategy is the same.

      2. In the interest of full disclosure, since you are defending the opaque business practices described in the above article, do you have any affiliation with Datasphere, either directly or through a company that uses their services?

        Full Disclosure: I am the co-founder of The Sacramento Press.

  5. This article led to a far more heated conversation than I had expected as I read it. There seems to be a few things missing in this conversation. DataSphere selling the ads is not the issue, many local media folks don’t have the ability to do it on their own and rightfully outsource it, the issue at hand is WHAT is being sold to small business owners and under what pretenses. Assuming things are done ethically, more power to DataSphere and, besides, small business owners often prefer doing business with a live person and a handshake so DataSphere can’t possibly provide this is ‘your’ market.

    On another note, people engage with different media providers for different reasons and with different expectations. A site associated with a TV station will have a very different user base (or a user base after different things) than an organic site or a Patch.com.

    Just as TV, radio, and print coexist in a market so can multiple local web-based resources.

  6. Datasphere is just a churn and burn boiler room, and the blogs they build do very poorly on the search engines. 

    Everything you will read about them is how they help media tap into new revenue streams, however it is obvious that they aren’t very focused on delivering effective advertising or driving real traffic to these lame looking blog sites.

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