*** Last Updated February 14 2010 ***
I will be continually refining and updated the Framework presented in this post. Please subscribe to this post, or revisit this post, to follow the elaboration of this Framework.
*** End of update ***
HyperLocal – a Framework
Many moons (4 months) ago I posted this post trying to define the meaning of HyperLocal. Not a bad first try, but I’ve since come to understand HyperLocal in a somewhat different way. I’ve come to understand HyperLocal strategy as being comprised of a number of different “dimensions”, each of which comprises some part of the overall picture. My initial list of these dimensions are (using Local and HyperLocal interchangeably):
- Local News/Journalism
- Local Business/Commerce
- Local Advertising
- Local Community
- HyperLocal Business Models
These are the core dimensions. At the same time, there are various technologies that are key enablers of the solutions developed for these above dimensions. An initial list covering some of the capabilities I am most interested in is:
- Identity and Personalization
- Social Media/Social Web
- Real-time Web
- Machine Learning
- Structured Data/Semantic Web
BTW, for a very nice examination of different aspects of the HyperLocal space, see Alex Isgold’s post on RWW from November 2007 titled The Rise Of Hyperlocal Information. A more recent analysis of the Hyperlocal space from Mark Briggs reporting from the Interactive Local Media conference in December 2009 can be found here: Look to ‘local online’ for the business model of local journalism.
I will explore these distinct dimensions, or perspectives, in a series of follow-up posts:
- Hyperlocal – Core Dimensions (Part 1)
- Hyperlocal – Core Dimensions (Part 2)
- Hyperlocal – Key Technologies
Hope you enjoy this series of posts.
As HyperLocal emerges as a key trend for Media in 2010, The Guardian’s Mercedes Bunz has a nice piece discussing the momentum of HyperLocal going into 2010, and highlights some concerns as well around local news reporting.
Large Media Companies acquire HyperLocal startups in 2009
Bunz first highlights key acquisitions of HyperLocal startups by larger media companies in 2009. Specifically:
- AOL bought two local startups with Patch, which brings local news to communities, and Going, a local event listing platform
- AOL’s big rival, MSNBC, acquired the hyperlocal aggregator EveryBlock
- CNN is investing $7m in the aggregator Outside.in
- The Clarity Media Group of billionaire Philip Anschutz, who owns the local news network Examiner.com acquired the citizen journalism site NowPublic
Google and HyperLocal
Of course, Bunz also mentions recent moves by Google in HyperLocal, which I’ve discussed extensively on this blog. Here’s what Bunz has to say about Google and HyperLocal:
If you’re still not convinced, look at Google. Today an increasing number of consumers use their PCs or mobile phones to find local products and services, and quite a few recent developments at the search engine giant took that into account. Apart from Twitter’s integration into Google with the option to get to know what is happening around you at any one point, Google offers Goggles, a mobile video and image search aimed at local information. In addition, it is testing Favorite Places. It has identified 100,000 businesses in the U.S. who receive a window decal with a unique QR code to be scanned with a phone handing out customer reviews.
And what of HyperLocal reporting?
Interestingly, observes Bunz,
If you take a closer look, you quickly figure out that the actual hyperlocal investment is mainly business-related. … But while the business side is taken up, the reporting side isn’t.
As the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, said earlier this year, we face a “collapse of the structure of political reporting”. While businesses get their favourite place on Google, there won’t be any reporting on councils, council committees and the courts. This may mean corruption and inefficiency go unreported.
Despite all the investments above, local news still needs to be supported.
Top Hyperlocal News Sites – A list
As I was writing this post, I also stumbled on a nice listing of top HyperLocal news sites (not from the Guardian).
In Summary …
Look for a lot of innovation to happen around HyperLocal in 2010.
Here’s the video:
Yet another piece of Google’s over-arching Local strategy.
It’s pretty awesome (in a borg-like sort of way).
Google and HyperLocal – Jeff Jarvis opines
In typical fashion, Jeff Jarvis has a couple of great blog posts on recent announcments by Google, and what it foreshadows for the future of Hyperlocal.
In the first of these posts – Google’s synchronicity – Jarvis describes a coherent emerging Local/Mobile strategy from Google that leverages geo-location, place profiles, real-time search, image recognition, entity-based content aggregation, social search, and recent acquisitions/interest in AdMob, Yelp, and Trulia.
In the second post – The annotated world, Jarvis further explores Google’s Hyperlocal/Mobile strategy, and embeds some videos highlighting some of these capabilities. (For additional Google-related topics/videos, see my previous blog posts here, here, here, here, and here).
Web meets World – the pace accelerates
The above initiatives by Google, while very cool, are really concrete examples of a deeper trend identified earlier this year by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle as Web Squared, or as it was originally termed “Web meets World“. Web Meets World, as I understand it, is the notion that the Web will extend its reach into the world of things (through real-time device-based sensors), will feed that data into the Cloud, whereupon intelligence derived from that data (contextual to our identity, interests, activities, location, social graph, etc.) will inform our real-time actions and decisions.
Anyway, powerful trends that in time will change the way we experience and relate to our physical and social surroundings.
Lots of great videos on the News Innovation website on all things HyperLocal from the recent NewBizNews conference held in November at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. This is a follow up to the FOCAS 2009 conference held in Aspen in August, where news industry pundits gathered together to discuss the future of journalism.
Lots of fantastic sessions on:
- Tools for HyperLocal sites: here and here
- Partnerships between Local Bloggers and mainstream metro newspapers
- Ad serving
- Journalistic Quality for independent hyperlocal newssites
- Starting a HyperLocal blog or site
- Marketing to, and Engaging the, Community
- … and much more
To get the gist of the “spirit” of the conference, please see the video below of Jeff Jarvis’ presentation to 500 German media executives earlier in the month:
Place Profiles – The convergence of Listings & Reviews, HyperLocal, Local Search, Maps, and Mobile platforms
Very interesting to see how the emerging “Places” technology space is unfolding. With Google’s recent launch of Places Pages, I believe we’re witnessing the intersection of Listings and Reviews, HyperLocal, Local Search, Maps, and Mobile platforms into an integrated product offering.
Google’s powerful Location-based Search platform
First there was the announcement from Google on September 29th 2009 of Place Pages for Google Maps. Mashup’s analysis re: the implications for Yelp is here: Place Pages: Google Launches Rival to Yelp.
The very next day, Google launches an improved mobile search service. Again, here’s what Mashup had to say on the matter: Google Launches Mobile Local Search: More Bad News for Yelp.
The combination of Google’s Maps, Places, and mobile Local Search services are a powerful trio. Throw in Google’s efforts in Semantic Web technology – of which Google Snippets is an example – and you’ve got quite a platform.
So what are “Place Pages” exactly?
Well, imagine that places – historical sites, monuments, your city, your community, your business, your residence, the mall, etc – were on Facebook. To my way of seeing it Place Pages is like Facebook for Places. Here’s an example of a place page for the Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Note the map, reviews, products and pricing, pictures, etc. on this page. Here’s another place page for the city of Tokyo, Japan.
I tell you, there’s some serious semantic technology at work here. Welcome to the Web of Things (see also Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle’s Web meets World – aka Web Squared – presentation, which I blogged about here).
Here comes Microsoft
Not sitting still, Microsoft also has some powerful technology and products to bring to bear. First, in 2008 Microsoft acquires Semantic Search engine Powerset to integrate into their Bing Search platform.
Then, just days ago, Microsoft announced a significant upgrade to their Bing Maps platform.
Meanwhile Microsoft continues to invest in Local Search technology, and the Semantic technology experitise they acquired with PowerSet should position them well moving forward.
So where does this leave Yelp?
Well, we’ll have to see. Certainly Yelp’s new augmented reality iPhone app is mighty cool. And they’ve got a solid strategic position. But look out for the big boyz!
Location Technology – beyond Maps
A very interesting 20-minute-or-so presentation by Mark Law – MapQuest’s VP of Product Development – on MapQuest’s foray into HyperLocal.
More analysis of the flurry of HyperLocal activity of the past few weeks, this time from Fast Company: Is HyperLocal Journalism’s Savior? Reviews the EveryBlock acquisition by MSNBC, the Aspen FOCAS 2009 conference on the Future of Journalism (and the accompanying CUNY HyperLocal business models), and other related stories.
A wonderful conference this past week in Aspen of thought leaders in Journalism and News Media exploring future News Media business models. The assumption made at the conference was that the last metro newspaper has closed its doors in the US. What will the future of News Media look like if this happens? How will citizens get their news? What viable business models will emerge?
One of the areas the conference looked at specifically was HyperLocal. Click on the FOCAS 2009 menu at the right, and listen to the Models for HyperLocal Approaches session. Jeff Jarvis provides a very interesting synopsis of the overall framework in the intro Business Realities of Journalism session. Fascinating stuff.
BTW, the business models presented at this conference will prepared by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, led in part by Jeff Jarvis. The specific data for the business models discussed can be found here.
So what DOES the term HyperLocal mean? Let’s have a look.
HyperLocal – News and Content targeted at the “Community-level”
Wikipedia defines HyperLocal content as:
- Referring to entities and events that are located within a well defined, community scale area
- Intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area
Another term sometimes used for HyperLocal News is placeblogging. From the Local News wikipedia page:
Tim Lindgren has used the term “place blogging” to describe weblogs that focus on events and people with a hyperlocal scope
Who generates HyperLocal content?
Hyperlocal News often has a Citizen Journalism component, and leverages the participation and contributions of the community.
Some people think hyperlocal content has to be produced by residents of this area, but this point is discussed (for example a gov stat can be hyperlocal but not locally produced)
HyperLocal News is Social
HyperLocal News environments typically have a social component to them, where members of a community can contribute and comment on content uploaded to the site
Hyperlocal News and Multimedia content
Hyperlocal News typically asks its community to contribute “multimedia” content – for example pictures, video, audio, etc.
HyperLocal News and the economics of News production
The increased usage of digital media devices (e.g. photo and video cameras, audio recorders), blogs, new media, and participation in social media, has made hyperlocal media content cheaper to produce and distribute.
How does Hyperlocal news differ from traditional Local News?
Wikipedia has this to say:
Typical mainstream media do not cover topics with narrow interest like street repair or local health inspection results, and instead focus on regional, national, and global concerns and trends.
Hyperlocal media has created a niche for themselves by only covering narrow-interest stories related to a specific region, city, or neighborhood.
What is the “specificity” of Hyperlocal News/Content?
Part of the difficulty with hyperlocal news may be related to its level of specificity. Some news is interesting on a regional basis, some on a city-wide basis, some is interesting for a neighborhood, while some is only interested to those within earshot.
This type of content (hyperlocal) should be contrasted with local news which tends to be less geographically constrained.
Cool examples of HyperLocal News/Journalism
As reported in the New York Times, the hyperlocal content company Patch has “one journalist in each town who travels to school board meetings and coffee shops with a laptop and camera.”