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 Outside.in 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.





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