Here's a prediction for 2010 that you can easily bank on: Big media portals are going to do fierce battle in the hyperlocal news space.
Today, MSN announced a deal with NBC Local Media and Hearst Television that will saturate MSN's local sites local info and news. The deals let MSN "combine the power of both video and local information, and increase the amount of local information" that can be served up to its customers. The content sharing means there'll now be around 3,000 more "news video clips a week across 36 local media markets." The new content, on MSN's new Local Edition page which came with the bigger site overhaul, will go live in January 2010. Local weathermen have never been more excited.
But MSN's not alone in trying to subdivide its news-delivery service into hyperlocal slices—it's happening everywhere. Earlier this week CNN said it would be investing in hyperlocal aggregator service Outside.In as part of its current $7 million fund-raising round. CNN will also be adopting Outside.In's local news data feeds, and distributing it to its 30 million monthly visitors. Back in August, MSNBC acquired hyperlocal news and info aggregator EveryBlock, and took its local feed on 15 U.S. cities into MSNBC's bigger news delivery effort. Back in June AOL bought local news services Patch Media and Going.com to add local news and info streams. Sum all that up, and you've got a fierce, and largely disregarded battle going on: Portals gearing up to do battle in local markets across the country.
|Dec 2009||MSN + NBC & Hearst||36 local media markets, 3,000 video clips|
|Dec 2009||CNN + Outside.in||CNN joins $7 million fundraising round for Outside.in|
|Aug 2009||MSNBC + Everyblock||15 local media marketes|
|Jun 2009||AOL + Patch & Going.com||$10 million|
What's going on? MSN sets out the reasoning in its press release concerning Hearst and NBC: It's about growing user interest in more local data. Research shows 72% of people regularly consume local news, 76% check the weather and 86% look for maps or driving directions. With 62% of adults watching an online video at some point, MSN has done the math and identified what seems to be a growing niche market. It makes sense: The Net used to be about big events, companies and international news sites. The Web 2.0 explosion made it more interactive, and more discrete and niche content began to pop up thanks to the blog revolution. And now the social media phenomenon is making users engage with the Web and other Web users in a far more personal way, and everyone is hunting online for more and more data—it simply adds up that they'll also be looking for locally relevant data and news. You know the kind of stuff: Which schools are closed by bad weather, where to get a flu shot and so on.
Ultimately it's all about advertising dollars, of course. If you can cater to a whole new market of advertisers—people and companies who until now wouldn't have thought about placing an ad on the Web as its reach and relevance didn't match their local business model—then you can tap into whole new streams of revenue, for what might be very little outlay. According to data from Jupiter Research (also quoted by MSN) local online ad spending is predicted to grow to a $10 billion market by 2013. That's not the kind of money you find down the back of the couch.