#SFSNYC VIDEO: Scale Still Elusive for Hyperlocals, But Hope Springs Eternal

Jarvis:KucharzAccording to BuzzMachine blogger and author Jeff Jarvis, AOL’s Patch did hyperlocal scale all wrong: “What they should have been was a sales network for local sites,” he said during a conversation with CBS Local Digital Media President Ezra Kucharz at Street Fight Summit last month. “If that existed, other local sites would have been able to start. It would have led to mass opportunity. … They didn’t do that because they wanted to own it all.”

In fact, Jarvis sees opportunity in hyperlocal wherever he looks: “A beat can be a business. You can cover a town, a group, a sports team. It’s a scale that’s a lifestyle business for one or two people. It’s not going to make Ezra pant with jealousy, but it does say that you can have these things scattered around. In New Jersey, we have dozens of these sites,” he said, citing one of his students who started a successful hyperlocal site in the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Kucharz, who runs CBS’s local digital products, wasn’t as hot on these sorts of beat-driven sites: “I wouldn’t recommend someone trying to build their own news organization and trying to compete that way. It’s just too expensive,” Kucharz said. “The passion play doesn’t typically work in this type of journalism.”

The CBS network of sites have tried hyperlocal, says Kucharz, but find that it’s difficult because of the audience. “It has to be a really great story or something that people really care about. What we’ve found is that not enough people care about the smaller stories to make the economics work,” he said.

But as it stands now, hyperlocal scale remains very difficult, said Kucharz: “A lot of these companies will try to go out and sell hyperlocal — they find it’s a lot harder than everybody thinks. And so their answer is ‘We’ll get all this reach at a local level and go to a national brand and show them that reach.’ They are effectively selling a national network.”

It’s also an issue of data. Small sites and publishers need to do a better job of collecting data that they can sell: “Google knows where I live and where I work. We’ve got to fix that. That’s a valuable signal,” Jarvis said, noting that the value of in market traffic versus out of market is 25x in some cases. “I say screw big data. We need small data. That would enable us to target both advertising and content with relevance at a higher value.”

In the end, however, perhaps it’s not about scale as much as it is about building something that can work for the long term: “I care about sustainability,” Jarvis said. “I don’t just care about building big things. I’m trying to train people who can make their own jobs.”

Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.

  1. November 15, 2013

    The mind reels … where to begin.

    First, I disagree with my friend Jeff Jarvis on what Patch should have done. Hyperlocal/local sites don’t need some third party to sell ads. There’s no place for network ads on a truly hyperlocal site and if you can’t get local businesses to advertise on your local site there’s either a major flaw in your strategy or your execution. Patch won’t help you with that, no matter how many millions you throw at the problem.

    As for Kucharz, all I can do is smack my head and exclaim WTF? Clearly, clueless. He simply has no idea about what he’s talking about. Unbelievable. It’s not even worth the time to critique because his remarks are so far off the mark it would be ludicrous to try and educate him.

    I mean, “it’s too expensive?” Where the holy crap does he get such nonsense?

  2. Former Dirty Patch Reporter
    December 8, 2013

    Patch let Politicians dictate and compromise their stories. They didn’t have facts, they wrote stories that were paid for in advertising dollars by these corrupt political machine politicians. New Jersey was notorious for this and this is why a letter to the US Justice Department and the SEC were submitted last week explaining the amount of dollars invested by dirty politicians and who they were and what sites they catered to in writing and reporting one sided biased Political Propoganda. These stories led to cyber harassment and cyber bullying for the people they wrote about. Their children suffered greatly because of some wicked greedy politicians and some greedy social media site that wrote dirty and slander for an advertising buck. I hope the feds get AOL Patch on ORGANIZED CRIME and the IRS looks into the politicial kickbacks, advertising payouts and pay to play games this dirty social media site played in. No go will come to Patch or AOL Investors for the wrong Patch and its greedy ponzi scheme created by writing these negative unwarranted stories. The best thing AOL CAN DO is SHUT DOWN ALL OF PATCH and DO NOT SELL IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY POLITICALLY MOTIVATED PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN EVIL AGENDA TO DESTROY PEOPLE WITH THIS INACCURATE, MISLEADING SOCIAL MEDIA SITE THAT is A WHORE FOR ADVERTISING DOLLARS AND COMMUNITY CLICKS. The ANTI TRUST, SEC, IRS AND STATE DEPARTMENT need to shut down AOL and Huffington Post for allowing this sinister behavior to go on. Its sickening AND criminal.

  3. Former Dirty Patch Reporter
    December 8, 2013

    Patch is unethical and the reporters are devils who sold their soul for a quick buck. They either lost family members or someone in their family for allowing these inaccurate, wrongful stories to be published and to allow them to stay online with the inaccuracies and political propoganda from a corrupt town of police and politicians. PATCH is Demonic and anyone dealing with patch will fall.

  4. Former Dirty Patch Reporter
    December 8, 2013

    Look at the owner, TIM, he is dirty and has no respect for anyone. He fired this guy. Tim is all coked out and so is that Arianna Huffington. Go back to your own country. You caused enough damage. You know your country wouldn’t tolerate your bull crap and lies you have produced on these patch stories. Your all greedy and sinister. Your all hell bound.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LBMA Podcast: Decawave, Drinks4You, and Opterus’ Janet Hawkins