The Economist (7/28/2007) writes about Flavorpill and it’s European equivalent, le cool. Flavorpill publishes “free, weekly e-mails that narrow the torrent [of hundreds of cultural events] down to the two dozen [of the] very best.
Mr Lewis started Flavorpill informally in the wake of the failure, in 2000, of a dotcom start-up. It has since accumulated 560,000 subscribers across 11 weekly publications, including editions in six cities. New York, at 85,000, is the largest. For its part, le cool was founded in 2003 after Ren© L¶nngren, who was working in advertising at the time, encountered Flavorpill on a trip to New York. Based in Barcelona, it now reaches 110,000 readers in eight cities. For now, the two overlap only in London.
Such people are highly attuned to the inauthenticity of culture manufactured in the pursuit of sales, so both Flavorpill and le cool say they are careful to separate advertising from editorial material, and to avoid promotional events. “Our readers can smell PR,” says Ms Hix. But Mr Lewis says that by selecting events that conform to the ineffable tastes of his audience, he has been able to aggregate this elusive group in a form that is attractive to advertisers. Advertisements from the likes of Budweiser, JetBlue and Nokia provide the bulk of Flavorpill's revenues.
With low overheads, limited marginal costs and eager advertisers, both companies have been able to expand without significant outside investment. Le cool's Spanish revenues could support the entire company, says Andrew Losowsky, le cool's editorial director, and advance advertising sales meant the London list was profitable months before it launched at the start of this year. Mr Lewis expects Flavorpill's revenues to be $4.2m in this, its fourth profitable year. Both companies plan editions in more cities soon.
Some crude math here... $4.2m/560,000 = $7.50/subscriber in annual revenue. Similar to Seven Days NOW, except 7D uses their staff to do the reviews instead of volunteers. All three of these services use email with web back up... that's Front Porch Forum's current distribution model too.
Jeff Howe has an upbeat piece in Wired magazine (7/24/2007) about Gannett’s big changes to bring their newspapers into the internet age.
By March 2006, the pieces were in place. The Web was to become the primary vehicle for news, with frequent, round-the-clock updates. The newsroom would be rechristened the Information Center, while traditional departments like Metro and Business would give way to the Digital and Community Conversation desks. Photographers would be trained to shoot video, which would be posted online. Investigations would no longer be conducted by a coven of professionals working in secret. Instead, they’d be crowdsourced — farmed out to readers who’d join in the detective work. Gannett papers would also become repositories of local information, spilling over with data about everything from potholes to public officials’ salaries. “We must mix our content with professional journalism and amateur contributions,” read one of the PowerPoint slides prepared by Gannett execs. “The future is pro-am.”
Howe goes on to look at several of the new features… mom-focused online social networking, public info databases, “Get Published” areas, etc. At least one of Gannett’s 85 dailies is finding success with one piece…
When cincyMOMS [the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s mom’s social networking site] launched in late January, Mitchell was responsible for seeding its discussion areas with posts and moderating forums. After 12 weeks, the site — a blend of forums and user-generated photos — was receiving 40,000 pageviews a day, and demand for ad space was outstripping supply. Initially, cincyMOMS was projected to bring in $200,000 its first year; it made $386,000 in half that time.
Gannett hopes the popularity of cincyMOMS is a sign that a long-lost demographic is coming back to the fold. Only 27 percent of young women read a daily newspaper, and the proportion in Cincinnati who read the Enquirer is even more anemic. Visitors to cincyMOMS may not be more inclined to pick up the print edition of the paper, but as they flock to the Web, advertisers are happy to follow. And more than half of the cincyMOMS advertisers are new to the Enquirer.
The long Wired article offers some interesting insights into our local Gannett outpost, the Burlington Free Press. Its rate of change has been nothing short of remarkable over the last year given its reputation. It’ll be interesting to see which, if any, of these new offerings survive and thrive.
Of the thousands of messages coursing through Front Porch Forum locally, occasionally someone will reference a conventional Free Press article, perhaps with a weblink… that’s great. Besides that, the only other mentions I can recall are when Free Press employees have plugged the paper’s new web features to their neighbors… oh, and some traditional customers are calling for some kind of neighborhood action to protest lousy delivery service lately. And some comments about a recent cost-cutting dust-up about eliminating free parking for the paper’s well-regarded reporting staff…
“While people are angry,” said one veteran journalist at Vermont’s largest daily newspaper, this week “the prevailing mood is one of disgust.”
Times are changing.
Sounds like this effort is getting traction…
With the probably exception of Yelp, standalone review sites haven’t figured out a way to make money. In the past year, InsiderPages was sold off to CitySearch, and Judy’s Book, famously, changed its model to coupons.
So why would Josh Walker, Forrester’s former head of consumer research, dive into the game with both feet? Walker’s CityVoter, which raised an initial round of $1.1 million from two Boston-area funders, has been in operation since last year, and now has 25 employees.
CityVoter works with local TV stations…
While the site is still branded as “beta,” the lineup of stations, which get local exclusivity, is getting real. CityVoter now has nine stations, 120,000 registered users, and 410,000 votes. It is expecting to launch 25 more stations before the year is out. More importantly, CityVoter has developed relationships with key station groups – rather than landing deals, one station at a time.
Read more on The Local Onliner.