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Hyper-local definitions and trends, July 2011


Slides for presentation to ANNENBERG-OXFORD MEDIA POLICY SUMMER INSTITUTE 2011. #anox2011

Slides for presentation to ANNENBERG-OXFORD MEDIA POLICY SUMMER INSTITUTE 2011. #anox2011

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  • Image:
  • Consumers value local and regional content92% consume some form of local media at least weeklyOver half say local/regional news on TV is very important while over a third say the same for paid for local newspapers and local radioIts also worth saying that more people view early evening regional news programming on the BBC and ITV than watch the combined UK-wide network news programmes around the same time (8.7m vs 8.2m) – 10% higher
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  • As defined by me and included in our review of Local and Regional media.
  • See: content creators, the appeal of such sites is the relative ease with which they can be set up. Equipment to shoot and edit video material is cheaper than ever, and online video services don’t need a licence from Ofcom, nor do they need to adhere to the Broadcasting Code.
  • Source: Ofcom report on Regional and Local Media pages 33 and 36.
  • See: content creators, the appeal of such sites is the relative ease with which they can be set up. Equipment to shoot and edit video material is cheaper than ever, and online video services don’t need a licence from Ofcom, nor do they need to adhere to the Broadcasting Code.
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  • An application programming interface (API) is an interface implemented by a software program that enables it to interact with other software. It facilitates interaction between different software programs similar to the way the user interface facilitates interaction between humans and computers.
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  • Population stats: (Oct 2010)Site data from Sheffield Forum as of 1st Nov 10.
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  •$8.2-Billion-by-2015.asp Image:
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  • 1. Hyper-Local MediaDefinitions and Trends
    Damian Radcliffe, 8th July 2011
    Comments and feedback welcome:
  • 2. Running Order
    Part One
    Why this matters to Ofcom
    Definitions and Examples
    Part Two
    Top 5 hyper-local issues to watch
  • 3. Why this matters to Ofcom
  • 4. Consumption of local media is high
    Use TV, radio, internet, newspapers, magazines or teletext to source local information
    All adults
    Source: Ofcom’s Media Tracker, rolled data from April and October 2008
  • 5. And localness matters to consumers
    % saying local and regional content is very important - weekly users
    Scores based on respondents importance rating 9/10 on a scale of 1-10. Source, Ofcom research
  • 6. But consumption is changing
    What is your main source of news about what is going on in your local area?
    Source: Ofcom media tracker, rolled data from April and October 2008
  • 7. With the web in ascendancy
    Use of local media now compared to two years ago
    Source: Ofcom research
  • 8. So, I’m mostly going to focus on the web today.
    But before that, what do we mean by local?Or indeed hyper-local?
  • 9. 9
    There is no consistent definition
    • Local boundaries are not clearly defined and vary according to:
    • 10. Individual perception
    • 11. Location
    • 12. Size of population
    • 13. e.g. regional boundaries can be considered national in Scotland, Wales and Ireland
    • 14. As a result, definitions of community vs local vs regional media differ by individual
    Source: Ofcom qualitative research 2006
  • 15. News or content pertaining to a town, village or small community.
    Geographically smaller than traditional broadcast regions.
    Comes in many different shapes and sizes.
    Citizen run/produced.
    Sometimes also referred to as ‘ultra-local’ or
    community media.
    And on all platforms: TV, Radio, Print and Web.
  • 16. Common Characteristics
    More localised – both in terms of geography and types of content - than more mainstream media outlets such as commercial radio, TV regional news, BBC regions, or regional and local newspapers.
    Often seeks to fill gaps - geographical, special interest or demographic – audiences hyper-local producers see as unserved, or under-served, by mainstream media.
    Diverse sources of funding (if any). Including: advertising, subscriptions, grants from public and private funding bodies and in-kind funding from volunteers.
    The value and role of community media goes beyond the provision of content, with specific value often seen in the social capital generated by it’s production.
    May be single issue-based, or too small for commercial operators to merit ROI.
  • 17. UK examples of traditional local and hyper-local media
  • 18. Local TV in the UK
  • 19. Community Radio
    Not-for-profit radio services designed to operate on a small scale and to deliver community benefits aka ‘social gain’, to one or more communities.
    Initial legislation introduced in 2004.
    First station launched November 2005.
    • Ofcom has licensed 228 stations over two
    rounds of licensing.
    • 181 are broadcasting, 17 not launched
    or handed their licence back.
    • Remainder preparing to launch.
    9.2 million adults (11 million people)
    are able to receive a community radio station broadly aimed at them.
    c.15% of the total UK population may be able to receive a community radio service aimed at them on FM or AM.
  • 20. Local & Regional Newspapers
    • Death of the local presses not quite happened just yet.
    • 21. Still a big industry as seen by the number of titles, 1995 – 2009
    • 22. And the number of publishers:
    - the Newspaper Society identified 87 local / regional press publishers in early 2009.
    Newspaper Society / Oliver & Ohlbaum analysis
  • 23. Different types of local online content
  • 24. Local Video:
    Launched in 2008 offering “Local Television for Monmouthshire”,
    Features a weekly 15 minute news bulletin as well as a range of other content such as local Sport, Music, Festivals and human interest stories.
    Typically gets 1,000 users a day, increasing by 300% at busy times e.g. Festivals.
    December 2009, it recorded its millionth visitor.
    Run (voluntarily) by two professional filmmakers, and volunteers - some doing 15 hours p/w to help with filming, editing and scheduling.
    A lot of the content is generated by students doing a City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma at the station; with coursework being showcased in the “Mon TV Academy” .
    Many graduates stay on as volunteers after graduating.
  • 25. Local Audio:
    • The Hackney Podcast won Sony Radio Gold 2010 for the best internet radio programme.
    • 26. Recently won the Gold award for General programming in the New York Festivals
    International Radio Awards.
    Launched 2008; available to download for free each month from their website.
    The winning podcast looked at water and how it fits into the lives of people in Hackney. 
    Featured author and psycho-geographer Iain Sinclair and architectural historian Simon Inglis, and music from electro-acoustic composers incl. Francisco Lopez and Stefano Tedesco.
    “The Hackney Podcast is just the type of targeted and locally orientated content that sets podcasting apart from conventional radio broadcasting. Using first rate contributors the podcast examined how water fits into the lives of people in Hackney. The production quality is outstanding giving the whole listen a water like lyricism that carries the listen through to it's conclusion.”
    Sony Radio Judges, 2010
  • 27. Local Print & Web:
    10,000 copies distributed face-to-face in the first week of every month at markets, train stations, and events and also in cafes, shop, businesses and libraries.
    Estimated readership: 30,000. Plus online audience:
    Written by the community incl. freelancers from NCTJ, Telegraph and the Guardian.
    No office, no staff, no overheads.
    No previous experience. (Keith Magnum who runs it used to work for the Green Party.)
    Sell ads, ABC1 skew.
    Won’t take ads from chains competing with local business e.g. Morrisons.
    Uses free Guardian API to pull in relevant content produced elsewhere e.g. a visit from Jude Law to the Petchey Academy in Dalston.
  • 28. Local Commercial ‘Postcode’: SE1
    London SE1 Community Website - local news service and discussion forum for London's
    South Bank, Bankside, Bermondsey and Waterloo areas.
    Supported by
    in SE1 monthly printed
    what's on guide.
    SE1 Direct weekly email
    newsletter7,200+ subscribers. is our online events
    guide for Rotherhithe and
    All produced by Bankside Press, a small family-run web and print publishing business in SE1.
  • 29. Local Online Forums
    Examples include:
    Brixton (and plenty of non-Brixton)
    related content from gig reviews to
    photographs and local forums. Traffic “in excess of quarter of a million page impressions
    per day” despite being non-commercial and free of advertising. Launched in 1995.
    Launched July 2007. Using white label social networking tools e.g. Ning, Flickr.
    Sign up required. 2,000 members. Discussion and interaction with both a civic and social purpose within the neighbourhood of Harringay in the Borough of Haringey.
  • 30. Local Environmental Campaigning
    Cemex: $multi-billion Mexican multi-national concrete company. Very noisy plant in KX.
    Resident led campaign uses videos to evidence noise. YouTube links sent to UK CEO, Council etc.
    Cemex capitulate – correct problems and restructure plant.
  • 31. Local Storytelling
    Stories about life in Spitalfields, East London. Focus on human interest stories and history.
    Email sign up for daily updates. Ambition to author 10,000 posts.
    “At the rate of one a day, this will take approximately twenty-seven years and four months. Who knows what kind of life we shall be living in 2037 when I write my ten thousandth post?”
    Readers from Qatar, Seattle and all over the world, not just E1! Sample user comments:
    “Your blog has become a daily joy I look forward to savouring. It’s a bit like a grown-up (and sometimes not-so grown-up) advent calendar. I open it with the same anticipation…”
    “I love you gentle author. I read Spitalfields Life when my heart is worn. It makes me think of you and how remarkable the beauty. 2037 indeed. Hope I’m here.”
  • 32. Typology Conclusions
    No single definition; comes in many different shapes and sizes including:
    Professional - e.g.
    Citizen run/produced –
    Hybrid – such as those produced by professional journalists/academics e.g.  
    Aggregator/Automated e.g.
    Their purposes can also vary widely.
    Therefore there is no such thing as a typical hyper-local site.
    Each one varies in tone, quality and ambition.
  • 33. Top 5 hyper-local issues to watch
  • 34. 1. Finding a proven business model
       “To open a shop is easy, to keep it open is an art.”
    Chinese Proverb
  • 35. Context: key business challenges
    For small scale hyper-local operations, like many listed earlier, key challenges include:
    Audience perceptions of quality.
    Lack of single / group editorial vision and voice.
    Funding – very few commercially viable.
    Inconsistent coverage i.e. there isn’t one everywhere.
    Most hyper-local content is online – so 30% of the population are immediately disenfranchised.
    Big business doesn’t necessarily find it any easier…
  • 36. 1.1 - Closure of
    The Guardian has announced the closure of local news websites (Leeds, Cardiff, and Edinburgh).
    “As an experiment in covering local communities in a new way, it has been successful and enlightening. Unfortunately, while the blogs have found engaged local readerships and had good editorial impact, the project is not sustainable in its present form.”
    Meg Pickard, head of digital engagement
    “Despite years of talk, hyperbole and failed experiments in “hyperlocal” journalism, which has been championed by many including the Guardian Local staff, there remain few concrete examples of formalised such efforts becoming commercially sustainable. …
    GNM’s decision may be one more indication that there
    is no future for industrialised “hyperlocal” journalism.”
    PaidContent’sRobert Andrews
  • 37. 1.2 – Expansion of AOL’s
    AOL expanding its Patch US local news network to 837 sites across more than 20 states.
    Part of editorial expansion following February’s $315m acquisition of the Huffington Post.
    Patch sites have also introduced blogging for the first time, with each Editor being tasked with recruiting 10 bloggers from their community as part of integration into Huff Po. That’s 8,000 bloggers. Editor in chief Brian Farnham, gave them a week to achieve this target. Source :
    In December, Patch had just over three million unique visitors, 80 times that of a year earlier, according to comScore.
    Meanwhile, Paid Content estimated the cost of Patch at $30m per quarter.
    Patch claims their websites costs 1/25 of the cost of a daily newspaper in the same town.
  • 38. 1.3 - Lessons from TBD in the US
    “Hyperlocals like TBD: More hype than hope” ( )
    said failure caused by:
    Small audiences;
    Big expenses;
    Small revenues; and
    Big losses.
    Rick Edmonds’ –
    Six business lessons from TBD’s
    early demise:
    Effective Ad Sales,
    Filling an existing need,
    “Pedigree does not equal strategy”,
    “Building out big is a risk” and
    “Fail Fast”.
  • 39. 2. Advertising
    "Advertising is on its deathbed and it will not survive long,
    having contracted a fatal case of new technology.“
    Roland T. Rust and Richard W. Oliver - The Death of Advertising
  • 40. Context: Local Advertising
    Traditional Advertising
    Strong heritage: Local Newspapers, Commercial Radio etc.
    But the internet is drawing traditional revenue streams away from old local media.
    Percentage of advertising spend on internet 2007
    Source: Advertising Association
  • 41. 2.1 – Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
    Old models switch to digital
    Recent Yell Group results:
    Digital media revenue grew 9.4% to £457.0m or 24.3% of revenue (2010 – 19.6%).
    Print revenues fell by 18.6% to £1,317.1m.
    Digital media advertisers grew by 4.5% to 902,000.
    Print advertisers were down by 9.4% to 1,195,000.
    “The digital marketplace is already twice the size of the total print market and some ten times larger than the segments of the print market Yell traditionally addressed.”
    CEO,Mike Pocock
    New models emerge
    Hyper-local media buying agency Oxbury Media, has built up an ad network of 10,000
    sub local newspaper publications and sites representing a 10m+ audience.
    Offers to “broker advertising, by postcode, region or even village” in print and online.
  • 42. In the US, local advertising is predicted to be the fastest growing ad sector
    • BIA/Kelsey forecasts U.S. Local Digital Ad Revenues to nearly double to $42.5B by 2015.
    • 43. Up from $21.7B in 2010.
    • 44. Digital media forecast to represent 23.6
    percent of all US local advertising by 2015.
    • Local Search Advertising Revenues to reach
    $8.2 Billion by 2015.
    • By 2015, 30 percent of search volume will
    be local in nature.
    Sources: and
    2.2 – Rise of hyper-local advertising
  • 45.
    • Of which Groupon is the Poster Boy.
    • 46. It recently filed an S-1hoping to raise $750, in its initial offering.
    • 47. The document shows how quickly the group has grown including:
    • 48. Increasing revenue from $3.3 million Q2 09 to $644.7 million Q1 2011.
    • 49. Expansion to 43 countries as of March 31, 2011.
    • 50. Subscriber base up from 152,203 as of June 30, 2009 to 83.1 million.
    • 51. Merchants up from 212 to 56,781.
    • But, an article on Short Logic notes:
    “Given they’re currently losing a staggering $117M per
    quarter, despite revenues of $644M, they’ll be burning
    through that cash almost as soon as it hits their account.
    At the moment, it’s costing them $1.43 to make $1, and
    it doesn’t look like it’s getting any cheaper.”
    It concludes: “buyer beware”.
    Read the full article here:
    2.3 – Huge excitement over local deals
  • 52. But not everyone thinks there’s potential:“Hyperlocal audience is hypersmall audience”
    Heading from an article covering new research by Borrell Associates, a consulting firm that tracks local advertising in the US.
    In its report, “How Unique is Unique?: Gauging the (Actual) Size of Local Web Traffic,” Borrell surveyed 16 local websites and found overall that:
    30% of a local website’s visitors don’t live in the market,
    20% of page views are delivered to “fly-by” users who won’t come back for a year, if ever,
    the average unique visitor count overstates the number of local users by a factor of five, meaning a site that sells local advertisers on a half-million monthly uniques is in the end probably only delivering 100,000 local users.
    Cited at:
  • 53. 3. Location, Location, Location
    “I like to drink to suit my location.”
    Tom “What’s New Pussycat” Jones
  • 54. 3.1 - Location Meets Advertising
    Location Based Advertising
    Predicted value $1.8bn by 2015, up from est. $43m in 2010
    (ABI Research Sept 10).
    Uses a mix of GPS, Wi-Fi, and /or Cell-ID depending on the product or service, the region, the consumers, and the location accuracy required.
    Targets users with relevant local information, and ads for local businesses.
    Google, says such ads already get 8% more clickthroughs than basic mobile ads.
    Already live in the UK
    O2 customers signed up to O2 More receive messages pushed
    from Starbucks and L'Oreal, regardless of handset or contract,
    when they pass through locations pertinent to the companies.
    Service is opt in. Launched 15/10/10.
    No more than one message a day.
  • 55. 3.2 - Location Meets News
    In May Google announced the launch of a new U.S English edition feature for mobiles called "News near you".
    The service works for Android or iPhone users, who
    – once they have registered their location – can use a
    default menu to tailor own news feed.
    Read more:
    Search Engine Land notes:
    “Google isn’t the first to offer local news like this.
    Bing’siPhone app also has a section for local news under
    the “News” tab, and CNN’s iPhone app also offers local news
    (and weather) via the “My CNN” tab.”
    Example created for someone
    in Topeka, Kansas
  • 56. 3.3 - Location meets Social
    Localmind is an iPhone app that allows users to send questions and receive answers from fellow users about what is going on—right now—at a given location.
    You check in with services like Foursquare, Gowalla, or Facebook Places you become available to be sent a question about that location.
    The service announced at the O’Reilly Where 2.0 conference that they would soon be
    available on Android. They’ve also created an API.
    Members of the Localmind community, can earn
    karma points when they answer questions, or
    check in, eventually moving up the ranks from being
    a “Newbie” though to the highest level, (Level 4)
    where you become a “Localmind Legend”.
  • 57. Or a combination of the above
    Information and entertainment services, accessed through mobile networks which
    harness the ability to identify the geographical position of the device/user.
    Share your location – and status - with friends.
    Discover businesses and services near you.
    Rate aforementioned businesses and services.
    See if your friends are nearby, or invite them to join you.
    Rewards / incentives to share e.g. badges, discounts etc.
    Best known examples: Foursquare and Facebook Places.
    Others, often US only: Gowalla, SCVNGR, Whrrl, Loopt and Brightkite
    Facebook through Facebook Deals and Facebook Places merges the advertising and social.
    Director of Local, Emily White said:
    “We're building a product that is social from the ground up. All of these deals are things you want to do with friends, so no teeth whitening, but yes to river rafting.”
  • 58. But, still small fry…
    It’s pretty new, so low awareness.
    7% awareness amongst adults in US, April 2010.
    Low understanding of benefits.
    Low numbers vs. critical mass.
    “None of my friends are on it. so what’s the point?”
    Not enough businesses /deals to merit signing up.
    4. Privacy
    “The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you're definitely not... home.”
    Big brands, the rise of the
    smartphone and popularity of new
    ‘deals’ services may change this.
  • 59. 4. Democracy 2.0
    "Technology is a queer thing.
    It brings you great gifts with one hand and stabs you in the back with the other.” 
    English physicist and novelist, C.P. Snow
  • 60. Does politics have an image problem?
    Falling turnout
    Declining trust
    New Scandals
    Declining party memberships
    Voter apathy, especially amongst the young.
    Can the hyper-local web help?
  • 61. 4.1 - Government encouraging interaction
    “Council meetings have long been open to interested members of the public and recognised journalists, and with the growth of online film, social media and hyper-local online news they should equally be open to ‘Citizen Journalists’ and filming by mainstream media.
    Bloggers, tweeters, residents with their own websites and users of
    Facebook and YouTube are increasingly a part of the modern world,
    blurring the lines between professional journalists and the public.”
    Local Government Minister Bob Neill in a letter to local authority leaders
    "Opening the door to new media costs nothing
    and will help improve public scrutiny.
    The greater powers and freedoms that we are
    giving local councils must be accompanied by
    stronger local accountability.”
    Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles
  • 62. 4.2 – Interaction by Elected Officials
    Engagement by Elected Officials
    East Dulwich Liberal Democrat Councillor James Barber won the award for online councillor of the year from the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU).
    He has published more than 1,300 posts and his thread on the East Dulwich Forum viewed over 40,000 times.
    “Formby First” started May 2007, by Sean Brady, a Parish Councillor.
    Formby, is a small seaside town in Merseyside.
  • 63. 4.3 – Examples of Web 2 interaction
    TweetyHall is an online aggregator for Councillors who tweet.
    It’s primary aim is to encourage “participation and open conversations, promoting better and more transparent communication between voters and elected representatives.”
    Grassroots Reporting
    • SE1 website carries AudioBoos of Southwark council meetings
    • 64. Ventnor Blog who have been live-blogging Isle of Wight proceedings since 2007.
    • 65. Inside the M60 tweetsfrom Council and Executive meetings of Manchester City Council.
  • 5. Data 2.0
    "The goal is to transform data into information, and information into insight.”
    CarlyFiorina, former Chair of Hewlett-Packard
  • 66. 5.1 – Open Data and Accountability
    Government transparency agenda includes a commitment to make public all Council
    Expenditure over £500, salaries of Public Servants earning £150,000+ and organograms.
    CLG are encouraging financially literate citizens to act as ‘Armchair Auditors’
    scrutinising Council expenditure in a similar manner to the way that the Guardian asked
    people to help them review MP’s expenses.
    Adrian Short’s
    Website for the
    Royal Borough
    Of Windsor &
  • 67. 5.2 – Using Data to Understand Services
    Bournville News took public information but presented it in a useful way for residents, byt
    producing a map of Birmingham City Council gritting routes in Bournville.
    “I thought the potential grit shortage
    might mean that some roads would stop
    getting gritted should the cold spell
    continue and knowing which roads were
    meant to be gritted would be useful
    ‘Will my road get gritted?’ is an easy
    question to answer since the City Council
    has a alphabetical list of all the roads that
    are gritted in order of priority.”
    (With thanks to Dave Harte for this.)
  • 68. 5.3 – Using Data for Civic Action
    Residents group set up site with help from Talk about Local and the Council.
    Detailed discussion about traffic data following this repeat accident.
    (Thanks to Will Perrin for sharing
    this example and images)
  • 69. Putting this all in context…
    Hyper-local is being shaped by – and is part of - wider media and technological changes …
  • 70. Wider trends include:
    More choice – more media outlets and sources than ever before
    Personalisation tools like or Trove
    Filters - from who you follow on Twitter, through to Google Alerts or dashboard services like Netvibes
    Social News – stories shared by your social network friends, or via email
    Social Search and Social Q&A like Quora orGootip
    Social Bookmarking like Delicious or Digg
    Declining trust in journalism and traditional media
    8. Online communities so we can talk about, debate, question, and meet people who
    think about the world in similar or different ways.
  • 71. “When we change the way we communicate, we change society.”Clay Shirky
  • 72. Thanks for listening.Any questions?Contact me: @mrdamian76