Relying on Facebook When Google+ is Rising Looks Risky

Over the past year, an awful lot of small businesses and hyperlocal media players have bet the farm on Facebook, ditching traditional standalone websites and go all-in on a Facebook presence. I wonder whether they are reconsidering that decision now that Google+ is on the rise.

Is TapIn the Future of Hyperlocal?

To be honest, I hate writing about this startup because it was an idea I wanted to pursue myself. But over the past week I’ve been playing with TapIn, a hyperlocal news application created by Silicon Valley software startup Tackable. Available in the iTunes store, TapIn allows users to overlay a variety of pieces of information (deals, news, events) over a local interface. But what I was really interested in, more than anything, was the photo assignment engine behind Tackable.

In Hyperlocal News, Mom-and-Pop Shops Will Win

Economies of scale do not apply in hyperlocal news. Rather than going up with scale, CPMs not only go down—they disappear. If Gap buys an ad across a network of hyperlocal sites, the CPM will likely be lower than if a local store advertises, because the Gap can buy that region from any number of sources. Conversely, the corner grocer will pay a comparatively premium CPM when they know for sure their ads show up in the right place.

Hyperlocal Is Only as Good as Its Talent

Ted Mann made a lot of smart points in his recent post on the lessons he learned from two years running InJersey, a network of 17 hyper-local blogs across the Garden State. There was one big, simple and very important takeaway: In a small town, having a single, passionate voice who is prolific and visible in the community can make the difference between flourishing and folding…

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…

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.

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…

Patch’s Main Problem? Paltry Pay

When I was working at AOL a few years back, the recruiter for 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?..

How Not to Be Yelp: Foodspotting

I spent the last column questioning the veracity of Yelp reviews and doubting the future of user-generated content (UGC) on that most trafficked of UGC sites. In fact, I was probably so harsh that it may have seemed like I hate UGC entirely. I don’t. I just hate UGC that is easily gamed and encourages the worst aspects of human nature – fawning frippery or obnoxious snarkiness. Further, a hyper-local reviews site that allows anyone to post a review, even from the comfort of their body-shop cube in Bangalore, makes it hard to trust the information proffered…

Can Yelp Save Itself from Its Users?

A friend at work is a serious cheap eats hound. He has eaten at more ethnic restaurants in the South Bay than I even knew existed. I asked where he was going for lunch yesterday. He told me. I Yelped it, and he laughed at me. Why? “All those reviews are useless to someone like me. I have different taste than people who use Yelp. And I’m sure that a ton of those reviews are gamed,” he said…

LinkedIn – The Ultimate Hyperlocal B2B Play?

In which our columnist posits that LinkedIn is queued up to take market share away from Facebook, Twitter and others while making a big business out of hyperlocally-targeted business-to-business ads, even as “wags continue to deride LinkedIn as a glorified recruiting tool.”

Groupon Pulls a Netflix with Groupon Now (and That’s a Good Thing)

As with other Groupon subscribers, a $10 credit landed in my in-box this week. The catch? I have to subscribe to Groupon’s mobile app. It’s part of the ongoing and accelerating full-court press by the biggest daily deal site around the launch of Groupon Now, a geotargeted deal product with much tighter time limitations. This is part of Groupon’s grand plan to shift towards becoming a real-time, location specific, expiring inventory deal site rather than a glorified coupon clipper. … Give Groupon credit for taking a page from the Netflix playbook in rapidly moving to seize a better sales mechanism after spying the declining value of its existing one.

Put a Geofence Around Your Lunch

So for me, lunch at work has generally been one of three things – eating by myself and reading, eating with co-workers, or meeting up with friends. While often a brief interlude of joviality or solitude, lunch has rarely been functional. Being an efficiency oriented guy (far too much, according to my wife), I decided to try a new service I had read about on TechCrunch called Let’s Lunch. Basically, this is a derivative of the old “It’s Just Lunch” couple matching service favored by urban office dwellers who prefer to see their date in broad daylight before a undertaking a nocturnal mission. Rather, Let’s Lunch is focused on bringing people together to meet for networking purposes…

Text Me an Open Table

Another true story. I was meeting an old family friend for dinner in downtown San Francisco. I had told him to meet me at ZeroZero, a very popular newish Italian joint with killer pizzas and a reasonable menu. We get there and I ask the hostess how long the wait for a table. She smiles sweetly: “One hour.” Well that won’t do. Oh, by the way. The family friend? Works at Uber, a private car-on-demand company, as a business development guy. He’s newish to San Francisco and doesn’t know where else to go to eat. I’m likewise not that savvy on the Moscone Center locale and also was “budgetarily constrained.”…

Mobile Search’s Sleazy Side

Mobile search is one of the handiest inventions to hit smart phones – except when you really need it to work.

For me, it was a frightening locksmith experience that revealed mobile search’s serious shortcomings.

My wife was out of town and the spare key was in the car she took to the airport. In a rush to get the kids into the car for pizza dinner, I had pulled the front door shut and locked us all out.

“No problem,” I figured, pulling out my smart phone. I punched in a search for a local locksmith and waited. Dozens of results came back at me, all with local exchange phone numbers and local addresses. This was fishy: we live in a small ‘burb in Marin County and there’s no way that many locksmiths are working in this neck of the woods…

Can Groupon Guilt Save My Local Sushi Joint?

I may have just helped put my little local sushi joint out of business. A place we had eaten at before and liked in my town sent out a killer Groupon deal: $50 of tasty fish for only $25. The economist in me knew the proper path. Maximize the heck out of that puppy and buy two for me (the maximum), two for my wife (as a gift) and two for each of my two children. That would bring my family Groupon savings to a cool $200 and still keep us within the legal limits of the deal.

It would also completely hose the little sushi restaurant we were fond of and do exactly the opposite of what Groupon seeks to do – provide an introduction to new customers. We’d eat there eight times in a year, which is probably more than we would otherwise – and they’d lose money on us every time…