Street Fight Staff and Friends Predict 2012’s Top Stories

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Earlier this week, some top hyperlocal luminaries weighed in with their predictions for what we can expect to see in the coming year. Today we’ve asked Street Fight staffers and a few friends who regularly cover hyperlocal media to submit their own prognostications for what is to come in the realm of LBS, daily deals and hyperlocal content.

Street Fight’s “Turf Talk” columnist Rick Robinson responded with a column which was posted yesterday, and co-founder Laura Rich responded with a column of her own that was posted today. Below are predictions from some of our other staffers and contributors.

On behalf of the entire Street Fight team, we’d like to thank you for your support during the past year, and wish you a healthy (and economically sustainable!) 2012.

Tom Grubisich, The New News” Columnist
* One or more of the major-media hyperlocal networks will launch a splashy new feature to add value to community news — “soft” and/or “hard” — to differentiate their product from the competition.
* Data, with revealing visualizations, will become a prominent feature in hyperlocal editorial content.
* Curated “wisdom of the crowd” will also become a big feature of content.
* At least one very prominent “indie” hyperlocal site will be acquired by a large network (like Patch or Main Street Connect), and the founder(s) will get a prominent role in developing the network’s editorial strategy.
* “Legacy” media — newspapers and local TV — will make major moves to take a dominant position in the hyperlocal space in their markets. Look for this especially in metro Washington, D.C.

Stephanie Miles, Street Fight Associate Editor & “Case Study” Writer
I see 2012 as the year when vendors really focus on the services they’re offering to merchants, making it easier for local businesses to run profitable campaigns. I think these efforts will come in various forms. LBS companies will place more emphasis on educating merchants (and merchants’ employees) about how to use their platforms — the way LevelUp is already doing. Groupon is heading in this direction, as well, by giving some merchants their own smartphones to track voucher redemptions and creating an online appointment scheduling system for merchants to use. I think more companies will be heading in this direction, and as a result, more merchants will be running profitable deals in 2012.

David Hirschman, Street Fight Co-founder
2012 will be the year that all online publishers, large and small, start to “bake” location into all of the content they produce. As smartphone location-specific search becomes more and more ubiquitous, publishers will take advantage of easy-to-use tools that are emerging and tag their content to fit into LBS schema. When users call up information about a specific location or neighborhood (either on an online map or within services like Foursquare), suddenly there will be a much richer trove of news content, social media, and other editorial information about that place to draw on. Gaining knowledge about a place on the fly will no longer be limited to services that provide user-generated reviews or simple address-and-phone-number coordinates; the deep well of data available about any given location will be organized, accurate, and easily accessed.

Michael Meyer, Contributor and Columbia Journalism Review Staff Writer
The story of 2011 has been the continued increase in competition in many hyperlocal news markets – with indies vying for readers with legacy brands and corporate networks alike. With the battle lines drawn, 2012 will be won by the publications that most effectively distinguish their brand. The best way to do this is with smart and penetrating original reporting.

Hyperlocal publications need to move their news gathering operations beyond low-hanging fruit. Hyperlocal news, if it’s about anything, should be about local knowledge and local memory being brought to bare on the events of the day, and these qualities are most apparent in stories reporters have gone out and gotten. The best publications understand this, and each new year brings the rest closer to obscurity.

Brian Dengler, Street Legal” Columnist
2012 may be the turning point where industry self-regulation for online behavioral advertising will prevail over attempts in Congress to regulate it. The Digital Advertising Alliance is pushing its “” industry opt-out program, while bills pending in Congress, such as those introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) (the “Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011“), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) (the “Do Not Track Online Act of 2011), and  Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) (the “Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011”) would regulate tracking consumer online behavior.

Asif Khan, “On Location” Columnist and LBMA President
2011 has been an absolutely amazing year for location-based marketing.  Many new platforms like Forecast, Zaarly, and Goldrun emerged as game changers — bringing deals, jobs and value to consumers and businesses alike; all at the intersection of people, places and media.  As we approach a new year, here are a few thoughts on 2012:

* NFC payment and related services are attracting big investment. 2012 will bring with it significant investments from Google, the credit card companies and of course the launch of the Isis joint venture formed by three major U.S. mobile carriers in February. But payments will take time to happen as the consumers are quite ready yet. Watch for tag-reading and peer-to-peer applications to fulfill the early NFC promise, while we wait for payments to catch-up. Tapping phones on smart posters to download coupons or bus schedules, and exchanging business cards and video clips with such enhanced NFC P2P features as Android Beam will grow in 2012.

* The LBMA believes that location is media agnostic and therefore more than just mobile. In 2011 we saw a few early signs of integration between the silos, such as Shopkick partnering with the CW and Lamar connecting traditional billboards to mobile apps. 2012 will be a banner year for location-based connected media. Checking into content (TV, radio, books) will emerge as a great way for brands to extend reach. Internet radio will be re-invented to sell media based on where people are listening from, and digital billboards will become extensions of the mobile device enabling consumers to find directions and deals at street level on a much larger screen.

* Who will be the location-based powerhouse of 2012?  My prediction is eBay. The company is poised to take us from a saturated daily deal market to a truly shopper optimized experience.  The recent announcement of their entry into mobile couponing is just the start.  2012 will bring the integration of Where, PayPal, Red Laser and Milo all together enabling the location-based shopper to find deals, learn more about the product, find out if its in stock and make the payment – all with their mobile device.