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.