local media insider

Assorted Updates: Local PRLink posts first sales results, EBay vs BooCoo?

Alisa Cromer
Whatever happened to...a snapshot of current results from the field puts the question to rest.

We circled back this week to update some of the emerging metrics for revenue opportunities reported on this site for a report given at the 2010 PNA conference. Here are the new updates:

• PRLink
We reported when  PRLink,  the new press release channel launched on St. Petersburg Times-owned TampaBay.com about six weeks ago. The site allows businesses to input press releases at no charge,  and pay to publisher them on the channel.  Technology partner Creative Circle Advertising Solutions is now looking for additional media partners interested in the program.

As of the first of November, the latest stats look promising: Of 7000 press releases weekly, about 200 are being entered weekly on the site, and 2% are upgrading to the $99 or $149 package. That means  a target of  $300,000 from monetizing press releases in Tampa Bay looks realistic.

The real value to a local business of having their  press release published is not the direct traffic but the SEO value, says Creative Circle president Bill Ostendorf (also the provider of the CMS system for LocalMediaInsider.com).  Search engines do not distinguish between news and press releases so the rankings are equally high as other articles on TampaBay.com, which aside from being a newspaper site, also contains the key geo-search term. About 33% of local searches contain a locational key word.

As we've reported earlier, user-generated revenues may provide the annuity that classifieds once did, and this start-up looks like a winner so far.   PRLInk was the most asked about case study in my presentation of ten top revenue opportunities for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Conference last week.  Once the press releases are entered, it's also easy to redeploy these efficiently to hyper-local sites. And, finally, the local press releases can be used by sales representatives without the "red trash can" program that some companies used to use to allow reps to ethically sift unused press releases for leads.  

• BooCoo Auctions
Revenues for this three month old program, also on TampaBay.com will not be sizable enough to report until early 2011 says Chief Operating Officer, George Willard.  Willard says he's happy so far with the progress, noting that the site has 17,000 items in auction at any one time (meaning a larger inventory of 75,000 to sustain the auctions as items "run out" of time) and 150,000 total monthly visitors.  The company has partnered with media groups who  licenced 25% of  U.S. zip codes so far. They are still looking for partners for the last 75% of U.S. zip codes and may consider broadcast partners. 

The company's plans to  undercut  EBay's pricing hit a glitch, however,  when  the online auction giant suddenly dropping its own fees from $4 an auction down to ten cents, for a "sale period" which now seems to be ongoing. Boo Coo in turn kept it's no fee policy (it had planned to implement its own 10 cent fee) and is only charging 6% of the transaction against  EBay's 9%. The model of "disrupting the disruptor" only works, apparently,  if the disruptor doesn't chase the pricing back down. Currently the minimal traffic also means it's a buyers market, so obtaining sellers, even with lower fees, is  also going to be challenging. 

Part of the solution, may be to use BooCoo in unique ways. Personal seller contacts and  local flexibility of the media partner allow for some interesting deployments: Some media have run group deals directly off the auction site and or contacted local advertisers to sell discount coupons on the new site; one even kicked back a portion of the coupons in the form of advertising in the legacy paper. We expect some creative models to evolve, but as much as we would like to see newspapers disrupt EBay, BooCoo has a long road ahead. 

• AllMenus
We reviewed this company in more detail this week, after catching up with its pioneering partner Post-Gazette.com at the Philelphia Newspaper Association's annual conference. Pat Scanlon, the head of interactive for the Post-Gazette says that revenues are growing more slowly than expected since the January launch, but that he's confident that the wait is worth it. Repeat customers are a key to the success of this model; internal metrics show that once someone has ordered online three times, their average number shoots to 24 times a year. AllMenus CRO Tony Willis says that his mature sister company, Campusfoods.com, is generating 24,000 orders a month from 90 restaurants around the four universities in the Pittsburgh market.  We agree with Scanlon, that if they persist - and cross promote on their sports site -  online- ordering could become huge, if not in a few months, then in a couple of years.

Of note at the PNA convention:

• Sliders 
If your company is not selling "sliders" at least for events who want to advertise, it is leaving money on the table. These ads are reselling for as much as $25 cpm on a daily sales basis, and some small sites have sold out as many as 300 days,  charging $300 a day or $1100 for the week. Unlike wraps and floaters, sliders also seem to "get out of the way" faster and provoke less visitor blowback. Our review of one vendor who provides instant ad building for sliders is here. 

•Pothole Patrols

The TimesFreePress.com in Chattanooga, Tennessee swears by its "Pothole Patrol," a channel that lets users report potholes by clicking on a map on the site. The reports are delivered to the correct office, which often responds directly on the site - and quickly! Graffitti patrols have also been tried successfully; the sites allow visitors to upload photos of the public defacement and watch how fast the city reacts.  We love this idea so much we wish we could send in a few of our own potholes and graffitti tags. 

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

prlink, boocoo, pna, ostendorf, allmenus