Thursday, May 06, 2010

Headed to WDT Inc.

I am thrilled to announce I am joining the team at WDT Inc. to focus on mobile and location based services. WDT has been an innovator in the Internet space introducing disruptive technology and I hope to continue that tradition.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Placecast Awarded Best Use Of Location

Another deserved award for PlaceCast...

Placecast’s ShopAlerts Becomes Official Honoree Of 2010 Webby Awards For Best Use Of GPS Or Location : Mobile Marketing Watch - The Pulse Of The Mobile Marketing Community: "Placecast, who’s been piling up the awards for its innovative use of digital marketing to drive consumers to physical environments, has been named a Webby Award Official Honoree for 2010 in the “Best Use of GPS or Location Technology” category."

Friday, April 30, 2010

LR Says Engagement is Key, But Misses on Strategy

In a recent post, Lost Remote tells local media that social success, "comes, not from pushing people to the site and then converting them into viewers (damn near impossible) but from their engagement with individual stories." In other words, get social and measure success based on engagement.

This is a great post and local media should be engaged in social for the reasons LR states. There are, however, additional goals that should be part of a more comprehensive FB and social strategy. Local media should be looking for ways to track, convert and monetize those users. Simple examples include, embedding tracking pixels in links from FB posts to measure ROI; when driving users to pages make sure to include opportunities for sign up for e-mails and newsletters, which creates new opportunities for advertising; and include advertising on your FB page/tabs. Most media companies are just posting news and watching the friends/likes climb, but they need to be taking a more active role in measurement, conversion and monetization.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

AP Wants to Drive Mobile Deals For Members

Paid Content reports AP wants to strike mobile deals for members. This just sounds like an organization trying to find relevancy while in decline. I certainly hope local media doesn't rely on AP to negotiate deals for them. Media needs to move quickly and aggressively into mobile and AP is not known for either of those traits.

PaidContent: [AP] authorized management to negotiate business models and develop platforms with content distributors, search engines, device manufacturers and others on behalf of members and the news industry. That mandate does not include pricing."

Location-Based Ads More Effective

This research reinforces what PlaceCast found with their GeoFencing tests .. LBA is very effective ---

U.S. Consumers Significantly More Likely To Respond To Location-Based Mobile Ads Than Other Mobile Ad Types | Wireless Week: "The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) ( and its official research partner, Luth Research (, today released the latest Mobile Consumer Briefing, a monthly survey of U.S. adult consumers about their mobile marketing behaviors and opinions. Available exclusively to MMA members, the new survey shows that nearly one in four U.S. adult consumers uses mobile location services, with usage highest among Apple iPhone owners."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Borrell: Coupons First Big Mobile Opportunity

Borrell and Associates released an updated Local Mobile Advertising and Promotion forecast. Their analysis points to coupons as the most immediate opportunity -- not a surprise. 

"There’s something dramatic going on," said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates. “The fastest-growing and most obvious application is also the easiest to implement: text-based coupons,”  Borrell said redemption rates for mobile coupons are 10x that of mail- or newspaper-distributed coupons. 

Coupons are not a big surprise for the following reasons. 

1. The economic downturn has resulted in the the coupon redemption increasing for the first time in 14 years, according to Kathryn Koegel, President of Primary Impact Research.
2. Mobile usage in general is exploding at a much faster rate than many people are aware.

Local media should make note of this and mobile in general. Mobile is moving very fast and media needs to act VERY quickly and aggressively. 3G, 4G and smartphones provide for a truly mobile, always on, always available service. As a result, mobile Internet use is ramping faster than desktop Internet did. Many analysts predict that more users will connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years.

The Borrell report says mobile marketing reached $2.7 billion last year and is expected to grow 84 percent annually, hitting $57 billion by 2014. A subcategory – mobile advertising – is already in the billions. Local mobile advertising, according to the report, hit $285 million in 2009 and is expected to double this year to $586 million, then spike upward to $4.7 billion by 2014.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Nokia Buys Geo Search Co. MetaCarta

Nokia announced it acquired MetaCarta. I've mentioned MetaCarta here before. They specialize in location-aware services and provide a geo-tagging engine and other products/services. Nokia is most obviously interested in leveraging MetaCarta's tools for Nokia phones.

The press release states "MetaCarta’s technology will be used in the area of local search in Location and other services." A not so insightful or revealing comment.

This acquisition comes after Nokia acquired Novarra -- a mobile browser and platform.

Here's more coverage:
The folks over at Directions Magazine offer some good commentary. I agree with them that a major publisher probably missed the boat in not acquiring MetaCarta. This is exactly the technology you need to help automate a hyper-local strategy which will be even more important as location-aware mobile devices proliferate.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Fwix Brings Hyperlocal News Feed To The iPad

Fwix Brings Hyperlocal News Feed To The iPad: "The app aims to simulate reading your local newspaper. Fwix’s app allows you to view news stories in a map format, showing you the exact geographic location of news. You can access news by your location and then filter stories by subject (i.e. sports, arts, politics, crime). And you can share all content on Facebook, Twitter or via email."

Friday, April 02, 2010

Why Where 2.0 Trumps SXSW

Where 2.0 just ended in Northern California, just weeks after SXSW in Austin, Texas. The conference did not get as much mass media coverage. It's always been under the radar. This year it was really overshadowed because Gowalla and FourSquare sucked up so much mobile and location-specific press at SXSW. Where 2.0 typically is more developer focused. As such, the announcements tend to be less obvious in their benefits to the geo-neophyte. This year, Where 2.0 was partisan to announcements from SimpleGeo launching a SaaS platform and location-based data marketplace, PlaceCast launching a its Match API, and more. These are not consumer-facing solutions and as such are less sexy to most people, but they are potentially more critical because they help empower the the development of LBS going forward.For that reason, I would say Where 2.0 trumps SXSW and deserves some much needed contemplation.

Here are some resources to get caught up:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

KOMO Adds Hyper-Local Prompt, Topics Pages on Home rolled out some changes to their home page layout recently. One of the changes may signal some discomfort on their part with regard to traffic going to the hyper-local pages.

When I first visited the site this week I was prompted with an overlay that suggested I check out the local communities section. Obviously, they are looking to drive traffic into those hyperlocal community pages. The div is apparently frequency capped, so I only got it once. Could this suggest a little angst on their part with regard to traffic to those pages?

Also, they have added topics pages adjacent to content buckets/modules on the home page. This is typically a d strategy to drive users to longer-tail content and drive SEO. DataSphere powers topics pages and is most assuredly powering the new topics feature.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bing Calls on Broadcasters

Bing called on broadcasters to innovate using their product. Of course, they love the free exposure. The blog writes:

"A couple months ago we changed the Bing Maps Terms of Use in a post called Bing Maps Terms of Use Changes; Benefit Educators, Not-for-Profits and Developers. Well, we’ve gone a done it again. This time all you TV anchors are going to look so much hotter with a Bing Map playing behind your talking head. Oh, the ideas you can come up with for using anything in Bing Maps for free on your broadcast. King 5 in Seattle just happens to be a bit ahead of the game - Using Bird’s Eye on Broadcast. Or, check out the idea of using Streetside to broadcast your reporters location and playback the video with a GPS breadcrumb like I’ve seen with Inca X’s Geocasting.

Seems like a smart move on the part of MS/Bing as they battle Google.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Report: Media in Free Fall; Niche Not Picking up Slack

The State of the News Media 2010 shows a pretty dismal story for the health and status of local media. Rather than repeat it all, check out Greg Sterling's post which highlights some key charts that show the decline, primarily in newspapers. There is also a pretty shocking chart showing the impact of the recession and disruption combined on traditional media revenue in 2009.

“Audiences continue to fall for newscasts across all time slots. Revenue, too, was in a free fall. Looking ahead, most market analysts project revenues to grow only slightly, but that is hardly taken as good   news given that it is a year that will include both the off-year elections and winter Olympic Games,” the Pew report said.

Compounding the problem, Pew found that media doesn't know how to monetize their content --  "It remains as unclear in 2010 as ever how to monetize the growing audience."  

The results fuel a fire led by folks like Jeff Jarvis, Michael Rosenblum, and more recently Marc Andreesen that recommend media "burn the place to the ground" and start over.
It's a dense report (summary) and with so many people doing summaries I focused on the Citizen Journalism part of the report. The findings in that part of the report are certain to anger hyper-local and citizen journalism advocates. The reports finds that both HL and CJ are wanting in terms of quantity of content, resources and overall ability to compete with traditional media. The conclusion appears to be that CJ and HL are not in a position to fill the shoes of traditional media. 

The framing of the evaluation and results seem odd at times and suggest a bias against the emerging ecosystem. The report looked at with 363 journalism Web sites across 46 randomly sampled markets. The result: "The citizen news sites offered less news, fewer updates and were less open to interaction with readers than traditional news websites."

One criticism that the report focused on was a lack of transparency in mission. For instance the report found " did not have easy-to-find mission statement or contact information." While I understand and respect how journalists evaluate the journalistic integrity of these sites, I believe they overlook the fact that the audience may not care that blogs, HL sites and CJ sites are missing mission statements.

The report throws out a half-hearted comment of hope at the end of the section.

"Despite the gaps between legacy news coverage and citizen news, highly promising citizen and alternative sites are emerging daily."

Despite this hopeful comment, the report seems to conclude 'traditional media is in sharp decline and don't expect citizen journalism to pick up where traditional media is falling.'

The report falls short of suggesting where one might seek out the future of journalism. A quote from Jane Stevens, the director of media strategies for the Kansas-based World Company may allude to what the authors think:

"You have to integrate community conversation with ‘traditional’ journalism.... That means providing the same tools to the community, including businesses, as journalists have, and focusing content on how to solve problems and improve the community."

Friday, March 12, 2010

DataSphere Must Change or Risk Failure

Datasphere has been getting a lot of press for their hyper-local solution for media. So, I looked into it further. Their solution is a combination of sales and technology offered at no cost to local affiliates. As they explain it, they want to help local media establish a hyper-local footprint that they can build on over time. At the face of it, the solution presents an inviting opportunity to media. There is little risk to stations and good potential for upside because the cost for the platform is covered in a rev-share and DataSphere is  bringing new SMB clients/revenue to the table that the stations are not willing or able to pursue.

With all of this said, I believe there are some serious flaws in their approach that will burn them later on.
  1. They are not actively using LAT/LON in their content. Everything is based on topics. Topics allows for efficient work-flow, SEO, and the ability to do natural language search. However,  very soon they will need to build LAT/LON into everything. Without geo-tagging, the experience can't get micro-local and so monetization strategies are limited significantly especially in the mobile world. Without geo-tagging advertising can't be delivered based on very granular location information, such as where the consumer is located when doing the search/consumption and where that is in relation to an advertiser that may want to reach them at that moment. 
  2. They are not doing any real aggregation.Without aggregation it is difficult to scale hyper-local. This where has the advantage. Essentially, the local media cannot produce enough content, even with hired guns, to fill all the hyper-local slots with robust content.  Aggregation is required to fill in the holes.
  3. The quality of content will suffer if editors are spread too thin. Editors covering too many communities won't be embedded in the community and so they will miss the gestalt of life in those communities.The user experience will suffer and so will traffic.
 I have concerns with their revenue model as well, but will cover those in a separate post.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roundup: Twitter Geo Live, FourSquare to Offer Biz Tools, Layar Relaunches, Hubbard Does DataSphere

Interest in Geo is accelerating. There was too much geo news to cover in individual posts, so here's a brief list:
  • Technology Review covers challenges of determining physical location accurately and turning coordinates into meaningful information, and protecting users' privacy.
  • ReadWriteWeb notes that Layar re-released its augmented reality iPhone app this time with Foursquare integration. 
  • The NY Times reports Foursquare, plans to "distribute a free analytics tool and dashboard in the coming weeks that will give business owners access to a range of information and statistics about visitors to their establishments."
  • Twitter just turned on its geolocation today, according to TechCrunch. TC notes, "While Twitter’s geolocation feature has been live through its API since last November, there was no sign of integration into the main site until now."
  • CNET reports Google Maps is "set to provide a new option for getting around town: biking directions" during the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C.
  • DataSphere is back in the news, this time launching hyper-local sites with Hubbard Broadcasting.
  • Everyone is reporting that Facebook location sharing is coming soon.


Sysomos Puts FourSquare on the Map

Users of FourSqare may love this. Sysomos just launched FourWhere, "a new and free location-based social search service from Sysomos that mashes-up locations and comments from Foursquare with the Google Maps API."

That's a cool idea, because there needs to be a way to intuitively find comments from FourSquare users, similar to reviews or tips. It makes sense to translate the data into a mashup, since it is location-based data.

The company fashions itself as providing sentiment analysis as competitive analysis. There's a huge opportunity for media to take this "data" and use it for real-time feedback before, during and after events they cover, not unlike what did with Crimson Hexagon.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

WHERE Claims Ads Lift CTR 3X

According to Fierce Wireless , uLocate launched Where Ads a service to offer hyper-local mobile ads. Of note, uLocate claims, "the click through rates on WHERE Ads exceeded other mobile ads by as much as three times.

This reinforces the findings of eMarkerter and others -- location adds relevancy and with relevancy 
consumers are more apt to click.

Coverage also at, Internet2go, etc. and Datasphere on Collision Course and Datasphere are on a collision course. just announced a new business model for partners where they actually sell the ads on the hyperlocal pages they provide to publisher sites. This was the last piece that needed to fall in place for to provide a complete end-to-end hyper-local solution. DataSphere has rev-share model and they sell the ad inventory. has free or license models and now they'll sell your inventory as well.

Of course, the two companies are different in their their approaches. DataSphere provides a platform for media to build local (semi-hyper-local) sites, while is primarily an aggregator. However, there are ways in both solutions to do what the other offers.

In both cases, the hyper-local solution required the vendor to provide monetization services because local media doesn't know how to get it done on their own.

"We are starting to realize that a lot of publishers are struggling to generate healthy online revenues on their hyperlocal and local pages. So what we will do is power the entire local pages for the publisher, all within their brands.," head of business development Camilla Cho told Citizen Publishing.

Folks at DataSphere told me the same thing. They said KOMO had 70% remnant before they brought their solution to Seattle.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Mobile Users Like Geo-Targeted Ads

Not only do mobile users want personalized services, they like geo-targeted ads, according to a recent survey by eMarketer.

The recap of the study makes a point of highlighting “Geo-fencing” by 1020 PlaceCast, which provides personalized marketing messages to shoppers based on their location.

The responses to the 1020 Placecast ShopAlerts program were as follows:

* 60% said the location-triggered messages were “cool” and “innovative.”
* 79% claimed to be more likely to visit a store.
* 65% made a purchase.
* 73% were likely to use the service again.

While the cool and innovative comments may wane as this type of advertising become more common, you have to be excited to hear nearly 80% of the recipients would be more likely to visit a store due to the ads.

Friday, March 05, 2010 Not Threatened by Patch

"Mark Josephson, CEO of hyper-local news aggregator, doesn’t seem all that concerned about AOL’s plans to pour $50 million into its own hyper-local news operation,," or so he told in an interview.

I have to agree with Mark. They're approaching hyperlocal from two different ends of the spectrum. I would actually argue they need each other. The more robust the hyperlocal ecosystem the better for everyone, especially when it comes time to monetize.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Waze Partners with Intermap is a crowd-sourced traffic information provider.They just formed a partnership with Intermap Technologies: "Through ongoing analysis, Intermap can supplement its existing road change detection process, noting when new roads appear or existing roads change. Combining the Waze data with satellite imagery analysis, the Company will enhance its change detection capability and be enabled to pinpoint where additional technologies can be utilized to capture new and altered roads." Crowd-sourced traffic data could present a great opportunity for local media to offer surface street traffic data.

The Copying Begins - Raycom Does DataSphere

DataSphere is on a roll. They announced today that they did a deal with Raycom. For those of you that don't know, TV stations rarely have a truly new idea. They typically admit that fact. They are prone to watch cautiously and copy people (because they don't want to be the one that took the risk and blew it) who have a winning formula. Right now, Fischer Communications has the winning formula in the eyes of many local media looking to experiment in hyperlocal. >> Read the press release

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

DIY Foursquare - Maybe Good Idea for Local Media

This may make sense for some local media companies looking to experiment in LBS or implement a solution for a niche site.

Advertising Age mentions a company called Socialight which has turned its Community Platform from B2C to B2B. Last week they launched a white label solution to help brands create their own Foursquare/Loopt/LBS  Solution. Advertising Age describes it as "Ning for LBS." On the face of it, it makes no sense to recreate the wheel, but it may be a good option for unique contests and niche sites create by local media companies that don't want to go into strategic talks.

AOL's Patch launches in Manhattan Beach

There's been a lot of buzz about Aol's Patch strategy -- good and bad. Now, AOL launched Patch in Manhattan Beach according to LA Observed

"The Patch approach of hyper-local news hubs debuted today on the West Coast with the unveiling of a site devoted to Manhattan Beach. Another is planned soon for Hermosa Beach."

Sunday, February 28, 2010 Re-Design Under Way Re-Design Under Way " announced a complete redesign and relaunch scheduled for May, 2010. According to the press release, "This relaunch will help to build the brand and will ease the work of the Local Editors facilitating the expansion of the OurTown network."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Placecast's ShopAlerts to Deliver on Mobile Promise

Greg Sterling posted an interesting announcement from Placecast. If you haven't heard of Placecast and you are interested in monetizing LBS or hyperlocal initiatives you should get to know what they do.I met them a year ago at Where 2.0 and discovered they could close the gap between my geovision and implementation.

Placecast's ShopAlerts allows retailers to create automated SMS alerts that are sent to consumers when they are near a retail outlet with which they have opted-in. Then as the consumer goes about their daily life they are automatically alerted when they are near a retail location of any specials. A key to ShopAlerts is that it does not require a smartphone. Someday this will not be a competitive advantage but for now it is because most people don't use smartphones. According to Screenwerk, four retailers are on board at launch: SONIC, American Eagle Outfitters, and REI.

This is the second announcement this week where a company is delivering on the early promise of mobile and LBS. Loopt made an announcement  for a pay per action solution coming soon.
Update 2/27: It looks like North Face is also experimenting with Placecasts approach. According to Media Buyer Planner North Face has a campaign where Placecast "created 1,000 fenced areas in and around the cities where the North Face has many stores. The North Face also chose locations where there is a lot of snow and rain, so it could tailor its messages to the weather."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Patent Links Location to Access Permissions

Google filed for and was awarded a patent for restricting access to documents based on -- in part -- the users location. The patent reads:

United States Patent: 7664751: "Users may be presented with different viewing interfaces for a document based on a combination of factors relating to display rights possessed for the document and user specific information. In one implementation, the user's location is used to determine portions of the document that can be displayed to the user. More particularly, access privileges to a document for a user are determined based on geographical location information of the user and based on access rights possessed for the document. Portions of the document may then be formatted for display to the user based on the determined access privileges."

I'm not sure what Google is thinking. Maybe they are anticipating that publishers will want to restrict access based on DMA, similar to broadcast companies and sports clubs. Or, maybe they want to restrict access to documents based on proximity to a building such as a library or the pentagon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

API Streamlines Surfacing of Relevant Geo-Info

I'm going deep into the 'GeoGeek' here, but think this is an interesting application announcement.

Geolenz announced the creation of an API that streamlines the surfacing of relevant data based on someone's location. From my interpretation of the press release, Geolenz created geo-"domains" which are a combination of geographically defined boundaries (possibly a neighborhood, village, city, street route) and search against those boundaries. The result is the ability in input a LAT/LON, filter against the concept of the domain, and return geographically relevant information  from many different sources based on that domain. 

"Each application developer can then enhance with functionality by specifying their own context of rules and terminology for communicating location information about the domain to and from end users." according to Geolenz.

At the face of it, I see this as a way to streamline the delivery of contextual data in location based services, mashups, etc. As a use case, a user may zoom in a weather mashup into  their neighborhood. As a result, the map would call this API to return relevant data for the domain in which the map is focused. That data could be business listings, current weather conditions, tweets from users, etc. Much of this is done now by developers/business owners that hand pick partners and feeds to return specific data. This API would allow for a developer to build the map and choose the data based on what the API returns.

If I am a data provider I would want to know how I can be included in Geolenz' API. If I am Geolenz I'd want to know if this is patent-able.

Innovative Idea -- Automated Weather Tweets

I've already noted that I believe hyperlocal content extends past news. Some of you also know I have a touch of weather geek in me. So, this post on TechCrunch caught my eye.

"A young man by the name of Dave Osborne built an interesting project called SWASAlert, a super-speedy weather severe alert service that supplies super fast weather alerts via Twitter and SMS," wrote TC.

This is an interesting use of Twitter and if the alerts are GeoTagged, they could be plotted on a watch and warning mashup, which would be pretty cool too.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Loopt Seeks Advertising 'Holy Grail'

Awash in all the announcements at the Mobile World Congress was the announcement by Loopt that they would offer a new performance-based hyper-local advertising solution.

Mobile Marketing Watch writes, "Loopt could essentially allow a company to keep track of ads shown and whether people actually visited a location later using GPS or voluntary location-sharing," such as check-ins. This, "allows for a cost-per-action pricing model in lieu of more traditional and out-dated cost-per-impression or CPC models."

Many call this the 'Holy Grail' of performance marketing or advertising because it offers real accountability. The advertiser pays for actual visits to their store, not impressions, or clicks. The opportunity is obviously unique to mobile devices and points to why so many people are deeply interested in hyperlocal  and location based services as of late.

"The company’s CEO said there would a self-serve way of buying these ads.  Much farther down the line, one could imagine a bidding model where businesses set the value of a potential store visit from a new customer, for example, akin to Google’s advertising bidding system for clicks," wrote Mobile Marketing Watch.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hyperlocal Isn't Just News

Victor Wong posted an opinion on that raises an important point about what is hyperlocal content. The media in particular are too focused on news as information and miss the fact that people who want hyperlocal information sometime just want events, or jobs, crime stats or even pet photos. Better yet, what about coupons from the following...
  • Living Social
  • Yipit
  • Groopswoop
  • SocialBuy
  • TownHog
As Victor mentions, Everyblock is a great example of this. The creator calls it "data journalism." There appears to be two sides to this coin -- those that just focus on "news" and information and those that just focus on "ads." To me the secret sauce is a combination of both.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MediaWeek Scratches Hyperlocal Surface

MediaWeek did an underwhelming job explaining why hyperlocal is hot right now, and the percieved value and pitfalls of hyperlocal. It suggests there may be opportunity for media if the hyperlocal ad/sales code can be cracked.The article rightly states that the current big winners in the space are Yodel, ReachLocal and

"These companies, which have exhibited the largest ad growth in the space, do the dirty digital work that many small businesses aren’t equipped to do like creating banners and videos, and navigating search marketing," the article said.

It fails to mention local media success stories, such as Fischer Broadcasting's work in Seattle, and McClatchy Newspapers' efforts which were recently featured at the Borrell Conference. While those companies have NOT seen an explosion of ad revenue from hyperlocal they have had success with hyperlocal business models.

Lastly, there are some interesting quotes from players in the space, such as the CEO of I would love to hear or read the full interviews. They would most certainly prove more insightful than the article itself.

Newspapers Try for Hyperlocal announced that McClatchy, Dow Jones, Lee Enterprises & Tribune are partnering with for hyperlocal tools -- NBC already has on its sites. Does this commoditize's offering?  I think yes, unless each property uses them differently and potentially augments the data or interfaces adding unique value.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Google Ads SMB Enhancements to Maps

Greg Sterling points out Google is introducing a new local business ad (”enhanced listings“) on maps. It is only available in San Jose and Houston. It costs $25 per month to get the following enhancements on your listing:
  • photos
  • videos
  • Web site
  • coupons
  • directions
  • menu
  • reservations
According to Sterling, "During the course of the month enhancements can be changed or rotated without paying again. The $25 is a flat recurring monthly fee independent of how many changes are made."

He add some some screens as well.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Borrell 2010: Q&A Reveals Most Interesting Details

I made it to the Borrell Conference in NY this week. The opening panel was very good. Jeff Jarvis opened with his Hyper Local business model followed by a panel with ...

Keynote - Jeff Jarvis, Director, Interactive Journalism Program, City University of New York
Panel - Chris Hendricks, Vice President of Interactive Media, The McClatchy Company
Panel - Chris Jennewein, President, U.S. Local News Network
Panel - Troy McGuire, VP of News and General Manager, Fischer Interactive
Panel - Mark Potts, CEO and Co-Founder,

A lot of the information was a repeat from blog posts and tweets about each initiative but the Q&A section revealed some interesting insights.Here are some notes I captured. I was most interested in the discussion around sales and what strategies are successful in supporting the HL strategies --

Fischer Interactive
Launched or partnered with 109 hyper local Web sites. Generated 400k uniques in seattle a month. They have 1,000 paying advertisers, most of which have never advertised on TV. Fischer claims their HL initiative is profitable. The use a company called DataSphere to power the hyper local sites (widely published partnership) and they have a tele-sales team (40 people) that sells the smaller packages to smaller SMBs. The use of a tele-sales team for going after SMBs was something I pitched to Gannett 5 years ago and was shot down. Fischer claims its very cost efficient and successful because it allows the traditional sales team to focus on the blue chip companies that capture higher revenue per package. One side note that I found interesting and should present a possible gold mine of story ideas for any newsroom -- Fischer claims that they find a lot of story ideas come from user comments.

Building a network of HL sites. Started in San Diego and adding Orange County -- The focus on blue chip advertisers in the local market. CPM is about $10. They focus on under-served suburbs. They really try to incentivize their AEs in the following way -- Relatively low base with 15% commision, 20% if you make quota, 25% if you go 15% over quota. Again, this approach is something I pitched to previous employers as a way to get young, inexpensive and aggressive sales people to sell Web-only. I believe the traditional media companies militate against this because (1) it means complicating something they have done the same way for many years increasing the work they must do for hiring and oversight,  (2) it could create conflict with other AEs in the organization with different compensation structures, (3) ego. USLNN noted that  a segment of advertisers want to have blogs on the core site (A kind of advertorial content) in order to deepen the relationship with their existing customers.

McClatchy Papers
Their hyper local strategy is pro-am strategy, a mix of both professionals and amateurs. Twelve sites are digging into it, including Charlotte and Miami and Raleigh. Raleigh is a success story. McClatchy is against outsourcing sales like Fischer did. Hendricks argued that it somehow undermined the brand having these other people sell. I've actually heard that before. McGuire vehemently disagreed. He said most of the advertisers don't care who is selling, they care about leads and results.Hendricks noted that not all bloggers update as often as a publisher might like. He suggested that they needed to be incented to help them get past the grind of repeated regular publishing which can tire them. They plan to pay blog partners and or share revenue, but they don't yet.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Why Foursquare, Location Apps Need 'Old' Media

A new Business Week article finds that location applications like Gowalla, Foursquare and Yelp have limited appeal. For instance, for all the hype around Foursquare, it only has 300,000 registered users. Despite this disappointing adoption rate, I think there is a huge opportunity for media. Blogger Robert Scoble, a managing director at Rackspace Hosting explains the simple value created by location --

"Any time you have a database of people and you know their location, that's valuable to a lot of businesses," Scoble told Business Week.

So, the obvious opportunity is the ability to collect data about users, and the ability to target users based on their favorite haunts, or nearby haunts, etc. The problem -- They lack scale because people don't want to share location or don't see the benefit. So, who better to drive adoption than the 800 lb gorilla -- TV.

Yes, Bravo is working with Foursquare, but isn't local media looking at this? If a local TV station, embedded a service like Foursquare into the fabric of their local programming, they could drive adoption of these LBS, collect valuable data for mining and use that to build new relationships with SMBs in their markets.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Journalism Online Launches Pay Walls

Journalism Online announced their pay-wall solution is now in public Beta. The solution is actually more like 'metering' where users hit a threshold and then they need to pay. The solution launched with The Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era.

'Bravo' Bravo

Bravo announced it would team up with Foursquare. Bravo will integrate Foursquare into its TV shows. This is a great experiment that brings both the relevancy of the geoweb and commercial presence.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

CNN Experiment Points to Local Opportunity

Traditional media is struggling to figure how to integrate and leverage social media. They want to use Facebook and Twitter because they see how they are growing forces in how people discover, consume and communicate news and information. This past week CNN's experiment with Twitter for the State of the Union Address created a giant road-sign for other media to follow as to one way to use social media and geo-tagging to create relevant content and context.

As far as I know, the Huffington Post was the only media outlet to spot and report on this experiment. CNN partnered with a company called Crimson Hexagon to "analyze almost 150,000 Twitter responses to President Obama's speech." The responses were geo-coded allowing them to provided a sentiment heat map of sorts for the entire United States. Similar to the interactive electoral map CNN used during the general election, John King touched on a state on the interactive map of the U.S. which zoomed the map onto the state and revealed tweet sentiment in that state. An executive with Crimson Hexagon alluded to the future potential in her statements about the product roadmap.

"In major events like the State of the Union, we actually want to get to real-time analysis," she said. "We also want to get, if we can, more granular with location, based on cities and zip codes rather than just states," Melyssa Plunkett-Gomez, an executive with Crimson Hexagon, told the Huff post.

There in lies one of the glaring opportunities for local media. As the algorithms improve for filtering the content and the volume of content grows, there will be an opportunity to repeat the same coverage at a hyper-local level. A TV station could drill down on a county, a zip code or even a city block to offer real-time "sentiment." The technology and know-how is available to do this online and on-air now through companies like Google, Crimson Hexagon, Twitter and Facebook,, MetaCarta, WDT Inc., Layar, etc.

Looking beyond CNN's specific use of Twitter, the same technologies could be used to bubble up user generated photos and videos in real-time around a breaking news or developing stories. The value of this should be even more obvious to journalists. Crowdsourcing allows you to go from one or two reporters on the scene sending back reports , to "N" number of eyewitnesses sending you eyewitness reports in real-time. As I mentioned, this can be done now. What appears to be missing is a vision or will to try it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Traffic' Opportunity for Local Media

If you are in local media, you may want to talk to the folks at They need you and you could use them. They are developing their own maps from older census maps. They are verifying/updating their map by rewarding people for driving on roads. As people drive a road waze gets (1) validation the road exists, (2) gets traffic flow data (3) gets incident reports.

They need a media partner to help increase adoption. Media could benefit from working with them because they can drive engagement in the traffic product/section and create revenue opportunities.

Regarding engagement, viewers could be encouraged to participate in the reporting of incidents and the ability to ask other users (via an instant msg interface) what traffic to expect ahead. Media could reward some viewers by making them "traffic reporters/spotters" who's
updates auto post to the maps via apps and Wap decks.

As revenue goes, they can place advertisers such as Domino's pizza locations on maps. They can ads including the ability to reward people who visit a Domino's (verified via GPS) with a coupon.

Keep in mind, their data is crowd sourced and not very deep, yet. That's why they need help. So, the best use of their data would be as a supplement, or overlay one "professional data" on a mash up, such as Google traffic data.

Monday, January 11, 2010

3D Not the Real Story of CES

3D TVs probably received the most media coverage at CES in 2010, but there is another trend probably far more important to local publishers -- Internet connected TVs and other devices.

The convergence of Internet and TV, via TVs directly or other devices (Blu-ray players, gaming devices, etc.), is well underway. Some TVs are already available in stores and more are expected in 2010. By mid-2010 TVs will have more sophisticated hardware and processing power further positioning the TV as the entertainment hub of the household.

The emergence of these TVs is obviously going to benefit Netflix, YouTube, Yahoo! and Amazon most immediately. The Yahoo! widget platform is poised to benefit from this trend. The company announced deals with Hisense, ViewSonic and other technology companies. Yahoo! previously announced distribution partnerships with Vizio, Sony, LG Electronics and Samsung. The platform could be in as many as 5 million Internet-enabled television sets by the end of June.

Internet connected TVs are ultimately about IPTV. It will likely take several years for IPTV to become a mass-market service, but its rise is inevitable. When it does make it to the mass market, it will likely have the same disruptive impact on TV business models as the Internet did on newspapers.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Augmented Reality in 2010, 3D View of News

I have been reading a lot about augmented reality this year. I first learned about it through the Layar app for Android and later found a great article in Wired explaining some of the pitfalls and benefits of the technology players. This is life-changing technology if done correctly.

Potentially, someone who is standing in any city or even a block can use the application to gain information about that area. For instance, the user could hold their Android or iPhone up and on screen would appear floating tags giving information about the direction and distance to public transportation, or a restaurant, or user-generated photos of the area, or real estate for sales, or any data that is available via EveryBlock or similar services.

There are any number of tactical and practical uses for this technology. However, I found the vision of Metaio to be extremely provocative. Metaio allows users to also place animated avatars on maps.

According to one Wired interview, one possible use is for "game developers to use Metaio’s and Earthmine’s technology to create realistic, non-gimmicky games that take place in real-world cities starting in 2010. An ad-supported model for AR gaming is easy to envision: local businesses could pay to have the game send players past their storefronts."

This short comment opens the door for an endless number of uses for the augmented reality for commercial purposes. For instance, maybe a local store could place special messaging in the augmented reality, such as an animated avatar outside their business that includes the announcement of a discount or coupon or sale.

In a breaking news event, users could see avatars of each other giving perspective and location to their views of the event. Near real-time reports and photos could be shared in the 3D environment allowing users to experience an event from many perspectives.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Jarvis: Bankruptcy May Be Best Bet for Old Media

Thanks to Steve over at LR for pointing me to this interview with Jeff Jarvis. Jeff argues that old media must reduce their cost structure to survive and suggests that there may be no way to really do this outside of bankruptcy. Jarvis, is speaking from the same hymnal as Michael Rosenblum. I previous touched on Rosenblum's comments. He recommended burning TV to the ground and restarting. In both cases the point is well made -- the old media is burdened with incredible costs structures that prevent it from remaining profitable in the long term.

While Jarvis and Rosenblum both recommend starting from scratch after shutting down the legacy business, I would argue that old media can start the new businesses in parallel, shielded from the management of the old media businesses. Yes, the new businesses will be parasite for a period of time. The key arguement for approaching change in this manner is the time it takes to cultivate a new media business -- it is a process, not an event.

Jim Thompson was good enough to point this out in a recent post. Local TV stations are excellent at covering events and often not very good at process. What needs to happen with online and mobile businesses is cultivating audience and product over a period of time. Web entrepeneurship is a process of iteration -- concieve, implement test, start over -- where you perfect over time. The later is what is required when building a New Media business. Not every business can be Google or YouTube or MySpace or Facebook. If it was easy to create those 'jackpots' every time, every one would do it.