Monthly Archives: August 2009

Craigslist a mess?

An interesting take on Craigslist in Wired is now online.

Attention Surplus and Hyperlocal Advertising

From marketing guru Seth Godin today

There was an attention drought for the longest time. Marketers paid a fortune for TV ads (and in fact, network ads sold out months in advance) because it was so difficult to find enough attention. Ads worked, so the more ads you bought, the more money you made, thus marketers took all they could get.

This attention shortage drove our economy.

The internet has done something wacky to this situation. It has created a surplus of attention. Ads go unsold. People are spending hours on YouTube or Twitter or Facebook or other sites and not spending their attention on ads, because the ads are either absent or not worth watching.

When people talk about the problem with free online, they’re missing the point. Free is creating lots of attention, but marketers haven’t gotten smart enough to do something profitable with that attention…

Big companies, non-profits and even candidates will discover hyperlocal, hyperspecialized, hyperrelevant… this is where we are going, and it turns out that this time, the media is way ahead of the marketers.

And many Front Porch Forum advertisers would agree.

Starksboro FPF blasts off!

More than one-third of Starksboro, VT, households have signed up with Front Porch Forum in our first six months of service there.  Here’s one resident’s experience, as she shared it today with her neighbors…

Wanted you to know I had seven offers in response to my request to borrow a kayak for a day. FPF is a great service and I hope everyone already a part of FPF will spread the word to other friends and neighbors in Starksboro to join.

Let’s see, we’ve done favorite view and creemees. What’s next- favorite walk/run/hike/bike in Starksboro?

Magic Number

A guest post today from Front Porch Forum’s most recent hire, Jamie Seiffer.  Take it away, Jamie…

For those of you familiar with De La Soul, y’all know that three is the magic number. For those of you unfamiliar, check this out. Three is the magic number for us because that’s how many pairs of tickets our friends at Higher Ground have graciously donated to Front Porch Forum. As a result, all of our neighbors (that’s you!) have the chance to enter a raffle for a FREE PAIR OF TICKETS.

Grammy award-winning hip-hop group De La Soul is performing at Higher Ground August 21.  If you’d like a shot at a pair of tickets all you need to do is comment on this post.* You can post about whatever you want – how you use FPF, why you like De La Soul, an awesome show you’ve seen at Higher Ground, whatever – any comment gets you an entry into the raffle (limit one per person).

Here at FPF we use this blog to keep our neighbors (and everyone else in the blogosphere) up to date about Front Porch Forum happenings. These include unique success stories, updates about our progress/expansion, and fun raffles like this De La promo. La la la la lah, this is a D.A.I.S.Y. age.

*TO ENTER:  Comment on this blog post below by 7 PM EST on Aug. 20.  Comments on Facebook will not get your name in the hat… you must comment at http://frontporchforum.com/blog Winners will be selected at random on Thursday night and will be notified via the email address attached to your comment.

Hyperlocal news site bought by MSNBC.com

The “local” web is all a-buzz today…

From its founder

EveryBlock has been acquired by MSNBC.com

From the Local Onliner

While the site takes a unique approach, it is poised to compete with other hyperlocal sites such as Outside.in, Topix.net, Placeblogger and Patch.com (acquired by AOL this summer for $10 million).

From TechCrunch

EveryBlock currently covers only about 15 cities in the U.S. and comScore estimates its U.S. audience to be only 143,000 unique visitors a month (July, 2009). In contrast, competitor Outside.in attracts 800,000 unique visitors in the U.S. These are relatively small numbers, but these services do a good job of collecting neighborhood news without the expense of actually reporting it.

From Kara Swisher

MSNBC.com–a joint venture of Microsoft (MSFT) and GE (GE) unit NBC Universal–paid several million dollars for the “hyper-local” information site, which is up and running in 15 cities, including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Boston, sources said.

In June, Time Warner (TWX) online unit AOL paid about $10 million to buy Patch Media.

The New York-based start-up is a platform that does deeply localized coverage of communities on a range of topics, from announcements to news to events to obituaries. It is aimed at competing with local newspapers and other media.

EveryBlock takes a slightly different approach, scouring a mass of publicly available data in a variety of U.S. cities from a variety of public records–such as crime stats, building permits and restaurant inspections–and reassembling them into more comprehensible and geographically relevant news feeds, depending on what a user asks for.

And we’ve been asking the same question as Gotham Gazette…

… anyone familiar with the Knight News Challenge knows about Knight’s open source requirement: projects developed with Knight funding must be released under an open source license — it is one of the terms of funding. EveryBlock released their source code a few months ago, but Biella Coleman posed an excellent question

“Since the code is under a GPL3, doesn’t MSNBC.com have to also keep it under the same license if modified? Or can they take the code base since Everyblock is a web-based service?”

… And, James Vasile at Hacker Visions has an answer. It is a complex answer, and worth a read. Loosely? The holder of the copyright is not necessarily bound by the license a project was released under.

“Tap the $100 Billion Potential of Hyperlocal?”

Fast Company magazine published story (Sept. 2009) about the state of “hyperlocal” news websites, with the typical emphasis on mostly huge international carpetbaggers (AOL, the Times, etc.) and their efforts to appear truly local.  Most of the focus is on advertising dollars…

Hyperlocal sites — covering cities, towns, or just a neighborhood — can deliver precision-targeted advertising to local and global businesses. As the once-exponential growth rate for most Internet advertising in the United States grinds to a halt, the online local-advertising market is projected to grow 5.4% in 2009 to $13.3 billion, according to media research firm Borrell Associates….

Boosters routinely note that more than $100 billion is spent annually on local ads — TV, radio, print, outdoor, direct mail, and online. Although the stat’s origins are fuzzy, what’s clear is how aggressively folks believe those ad dollars are migrating to the Web. Borrell Associates projects an online local-ad market worth $15.5 billion by 2013, fueled mostly by small businesses ditching the Yellow Pages and local newspapers.

There is a gap between these rosy projections and the more bleak reality. Debbie Galant is the “Queen of Hyperlocal,” as crowned by new-media consultant and hyperlocal cheerleader Jeff Jarvis. Her site, Baristanet, serving Montclair, New Jersey, is often cited as proof that hyperlocal can be profitable. But Galant declines to specify what that profit is. “It’s real money,” she says. “We’ll share that our ad revenue is six figures. But we won’t go into more detail than that.”

The truth is that billions are not migrating to hyperlocal sites. “Advertisers have no interest in community Web sites,” says Gordon Borrell, CEO of the analyst firm whose statistics are routinely cited as evidence of hyperlocal’s bright future. “They don’t have the type of material advertisers want to be around,” referring to archetypal hyperlocal stories about high school basketball and drug arrests. “Sites are connecting the dots inappropriately.”

Even if the editorial mix changed, the ad model may be irreparably flawed. Consider the business model that Patch is pursuing in its three original New Jersey towns. Maplewood, South Orange, and Millburn have a combined population of around 60,000. Patch charges advertisers $15 per thousand impressions. If every resident in all of these towns contributed one impression a day — and all of those impressions were sold out — Patch would make $900 a day in revenue, or about $325,000 a year. Not exactly a windfall after expenses…