5 Network Models for Serving Up Hyperlocal Advertising

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Hyperlocal publishers have no shortage of ad networks to choose from. Dozens if not hundreds, from big to small, general to niche, are peddling their reach and technology to publishers of all sizes. So how do you choose?

Street Fight looked at five of them to get a sense of the offerings available and to get a discussion going about what to look for in a hyperlocal ad network and what publishers and marketers can expect. We’d love to hear from others in the comments.

A local network with a national reach, xAd has a local sales team in Charlotte, N.C. as well as an agency sales team in New York. While the Charlotte team focuses on small and medium-sized local businesses, the New York office partners with local and digital agencies to provide their clients with mobile ad solutions.

Monica Ho of xAd said that the company works with both broad-based and specialty sites: “We target high trafficked sites and applications that either specialize in local search or are able to pass through the users specific location when sending an ad request or accessing our APIs,” Ho said. “These sites include specialty search sites and mapping and navigational apps such as Poynt, MapQuest and Telenav.  We also are able to work with other sites and apps such as Pandora, Fox and CBS to place locally targeted display ads.”

xAd offers a variety of  services, including both targeted search and display, as well as sponsored content. According to the company, CPM payout for publishers varies, but most publishers can see an average of $30 for a local search and between $1-$3 for a local display.

Local Yokel Media
Dick O’Hare, the founder and CEO of Local Yokel Media, says he does not consider his company a traditional local ad network, but rather a “hyperlocal ad platform.” By this, he means that Local Yokel offers self-serve platforms and templates that allow businesses to have a bit more control over their advertising than with other networks. Local Yokel said it focuses its sales efforts on clients that want to compliment what they are already doing in terms of geographically targeted marketing.

Local Yokel works both with regional and national brands, and is currently focused on New England, with plans to expand. O’Hare said the company offers its clients real revenue, which will ultimately lead to better content.

“Put simply, we are offering them more revenue across ads that will ultimately become more and more relevant (therefore more valuable) for their local [and] hyperlocal content,” O’Hare said.

Sacramento Local Online Ad Network
Well-known indie hyperlocal site The Sacramento Press also runs a local ad network to feed ads onto other hyperlocal content sites in the Sacramento area. The network considers itself local-centric and content driven, according to Ben Ilfeld, the company’s COO.

“We are looking for quality local content that is refreshed often,” he said. “We are also looking for forums that are hotbeds of community engagement. Small traffic is okay, but we do hesitate to bring on very large sites as that could affect our ability to sell a good deal of the inventory.”

Ilfeld said SLOAN is able to get publishers revenue from outlets they may not receive on their own: “For the sites involved we are all getting advertising revenue from hospitals, public utilities, universities and major events that would not work with any of us individually,” he said.

Seattle Independent Ad Network
The Seattle Independent Ad Network focusing solely on Seattle businesses. The company works both with Seattle neighborhood sites as well as with news and information sites. Like SLOAN, Seattle Independent said it is also willing to sacrifice quantity for quality, believing that quality will be most valuable in the end.

“We’re small enough to measure partners on a qualitative scale,” said Justin Carder of Instivate, which controls Seattle Independent. “Funnily enough, their metrics also have recognizable quantitative characteristics.”

Seattle Independent provides a self-serve technology for merchants, but works directly with businesses as well. Carder said Seattle Independent offers publishers a secondary stream of premium level revenue on a very local scale. In terms of numbers, this network is still growing, and right now pays between $3 to $5 per CPM for display advertising, depending on the campaign.

Local ad network Chitika is all about technology. The company sources ads on both mobile and desktop, implementing their own proprietary algorithm. Chitika says that because of its targeting capabilities, it is better able to determine user intent — and thus is able to get publishers the highest CPM possible per ad. Besides hyperlocal advertising, Chitika also offers map units. These map units are free and customizable, allowing publishers to include relevant ads within the map.

While hyperlocal is central to Chitika, PR manager Jennie Freedman says that the company also handles non-location-specific inventory. “We offer publishers the opportunity to monetize their website for free, with a host of ad options to choose from,” she said. “With search-targeted ads, local ads, mobile ads, and our new Map Units, there is something for everyone.”

Isa Jones is an intern at Street Fight.

Image courtesy of Flickr user shannonkringen.