local media insider

Four new top vendors

Alisa Cromer
Coupons can be printed or used on the mobile phone.
Click to enlarge. The first universal dashboard we've seen that tracks a variety of marketing products.
The focus on lead and cost per leads is a big advance forward.
Gift certificates...
Video gallery...
Likewise, we don't really get the "opinion" channel, but it doesn't hurt anything.
Maybe overkill....do you need another events platform?
Shopcity provides this goodlooking, white-labled shopping mall. Here's what we like:
Here's what we don't quite get...this looks like an online store, but..
My what large dates you have! But inspite of all, this is not online ordering. You have to call to order or go into the store. A call to the store asking, how do I buy the dates I saw online, was received by an employee who did not know what I was talking about.
If they can make it there, Bumbershoot, that is, they can make it anywhere. Ticket sales to the four day mega-festival went off without a hitch, using the Stranger Tickets platform.

Over the last few months, we've been asking what new technology partnerships members are having success with. Hands down, daily deals and contest sales are generating the most revenues, and the top recommended vendor for both is SecondStreetMedia.com.  Here are four more opportunities from vendors recommended by LMI or its members: 

1. Event Ticket Sales 
Stranger Tickets, which the alternative weekly spent about $100,000 to develop, competes with TicketMaster for major events and earned $250,000 from ticketing fees in its first year. Now the company is offering to share its technology with other local media. Stranger Tickets earned our vote by implementing all ticket sales for Bumbershoot, Seattles largest arts festival in 2011. With 80,000 people over a weekend over four acres with 12 entrances, the ticketing went off without a hitch.

The online ticketing platform now has 50 to 60 events on sale at any time in Seattle  - so this company is ready to go with its first partner. They are willing to send in support to help staff large events. Contact is Tim Keck, publisher, tim@theStranger.com and a case study is here. 

We rate this opportunity as a five on a scale of one to five:

Technology: ***** Barriers to entry include $100,000 in programing, with ipod scanning technology. 
Revenue potential: *****For media already servicing large events and festivals, this could be a $100,000 plus opportunity from existing relationships. 
Service and support: ***** The Stranger will send its own staff to help at mega-events
Competitive advantage: *****
Integration with existing products: *****

2. Post Campaign reporting 
One of the down-falls of multi-media programs competing with companies like Reach Local is reporting campaign results.  This is made more difficult by the variety of products, each of which as its own "self-serve"  dashboard. Most reps have to send  an email to get reports back, wait for a response, and wind up with a stack of statistics.

A first step to provide lead-tracking is an automated universal dashboard that pulls  results from different kinds of banner ads, email, Facebook, Adwords, reputation management, coupons and calls. We've found two technology partners that provide these dashboards. One is ClickFuel. The company has already integrated Doubliclick, Google analytics, AdWords, Facebook, ExactTarget email and Vendasta, into its dashboard and is working on additional integrations including LocalEase and Trumeasure. Three large media companies have also signed-on. 

While this product is still integrating more vendors,  a new competitor, Taponix, has 20 vendors already installed (contact for Taponix is mike@taponix.com).

We like the simplicity of the ClickFuel interface and give this four stars.  Contact is colby.west@clickfuel.com.

Technology: ***.5 (Technology works great. Would like to see more vendors integrated - especially pre-integrated - for smaller media companies, and especially tracking of phone calls)
Revenue potential: *****What's the value of retaining customers by supplying better reports? That would be five.
Competitive advantage: *****Local media need this, even if they don't know it
Integratable *****Enhances products already being sold. 
Customer support: n/a 

3. RealTime analytics 

Facebook is driving 13% to 36% traffic back to local media sites in a few cases, but most local media are still have a hard time getting editors interested in writing Facebook posts that drive traffic. 

One of the "best ideas" shared at the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies is a simple way to get reporters interested in posting to Facebook: Give all of them access to real time statistics with a "top ten" list. 

As one editor put it, "Top down didn’t work and the reporters didn’t like it. We needed to find a pay off system that was different than 'you just need to do more work.'"

The solution came with the realization that reporters have own personal network, and are "just as egostitical and narcissistic as their readers." 

Watching analytics, reporters can see if their story is in the top ten, and, if not, post links to their personal network and watch it shoot up. 

Three options for live stats: Google Analytics now has a live chart and is free. Chartbeat charges $200 a month for base package. But the pick among editors at AAN was GetClicky, a $60 a year fix. "It's cheap and people were actually using it."

This is another five star rating; we can't see any reason for a media company NOT to use this. 

Technology *****
Integrates *****
Importance to revenue*** (But five stars for importance to asset value)
Support *****
Competitive advantage*****

4. Shopping malls with built in E-commerce

A couple of platforms are getting good reviews from members. 

Kostizi, a white label certificate store we reviewed here in 2011 made $20,000 in December for one of its new partners, a weekly in a mid-sized market, with an average month in the $10,000 a month range. This is really a white label version of a 50% off store; essentially, advertisers trade 200% of their product for 100% the price of advertising. Media partners sell products online in the form of 50% off gift certificates.  For local media wary of creating daily deals, this is a great alternative.

We give this opportunity four stars, based on revenues.  

Technology: ***** It works great. 

Revenue opportunity: ***** $140,000 a year for a mid-sized weekly is a winner. AltPerks, another software developed by the Stranger, and available to media partners,  has shown similar revenues, so we feel this is a solid estimate.

Integrates: ***May compete with daily deals (has its own built in) but could also be seen as supplementing this. The hardest part is suppling the daily deal AND keeping inventory stocked. So it may not be as good an option for larger companies with strong daily deal programs, that are moving towards multiple deals.

Customer service: N/a

Another take on the e-commerce shopping mall is a platform by ShopCity.com, which is getting rave reviews from its new users group. ShopCity integrates a variety of features beyond certificates in the store, but not yet as profitable, because of its  subscription-based business model. The white label platform has a built-in business directory, on which merchants can create the gift certificates, coupons, and video, each of which is also aggregated in its own channel (see images to the right). Posts to Facebook are also automated.

The first upgrade, with five certificates is free.   A  monthly fee of $47 gets priority placement, more certificates and  video, and $97 a month gives merchants anything they want. 

Frank Bravo, Director of Information Technology at Embarcadaro Media Group, which owns the Palo Alto Weekly, says reception is excellent but sales have been slower than expected. After almost a year, the group has upgraded about 60 to 80 listings, and now has a total of 800 products on in deals and coupons on the site. We are giving this a 3.5 rating so far, due to the slow uptake.

Technology: *** Works great. We wish it went  all the way to online ordering (only gift certificates), so the Mall aspect that showcases individual products - which looks like online ordering - is a little confusing from a consumer perspective.

Support: *****

Integrates: *** May conflict with other intiiatives at larger companies. 

Importance of revenue stream: *** Potential here, but the enhanced directory model is a slow sell with lots of competition. First year, it really only pays for a dedicated employee. With 200 stores - a stellar effort for a small market - the revenue is  around $100,000. 

Competitive advantage: ***The main advantage is the media company behind it. The sexiest part is having both gift certificates and video. 

Also New and notable

Locational coupons
Forkfly.com, a location-based mobile coupon site with a built in customer loyalty program, has ironed out some early bugs.  Like SMS programs, merchants can communicate directly with loyal customer via a pop-up windows, and, since it’s locational, its super easy to get favorites from customers “in store” especially in return for a promotion. At the most successful launch small market on the site so far,  one merchant has 180 favorites and 99 redemptions a month. Like SMS, this program may need a "managed" upsell, since it requires a lot of merchant participation. One small issue left: Banner ads to advertise the coupons go to a profile page - where the coupons are off in the weeds on the right hand side. So close to being right! Put a big ugly, color bar on top of the DEALS, please!

Placecast and Hopstop are also looking for media partners. Placecast sells location based mobile ads around a service that consumers have opted into. Hopstop is a more interesting model; it maps walking (and bus) routes from here to their  through very large cities. Ads are served based on the route, not GPS, which its CEO finds intrusive. We like this option for big walkable cities like Chicago, San Francisco and D.C. The partnership arrangements have yet to be worked out. 

Interactive maps from a CSV file
From the AAN convention - and for people interested in quickly adding interactive maps to stories and/or media kits. Mapbox is a tool that allows anyone to simply download a CSV file of any data and the software will show the data on a map. Screen-shot it and post to a story free , or, for five dollars a month, get an unlimited number of interacative maps, including the ability to zoom in and out, and performa a variety of other interactive functions. This is a neat application for marketing kits - show where advertisers, subscribers or newsboxes are located - or news stories.

Content marketplace
AAN has signed up to put their members into the a new content exchange start-up, content3nt.com, which makes content remarketedable. Since content sellers have pre-agreed to useage rights, it’s also no longer a hassle to pick-up content or sell it on the exchange. And you might make a few dollars in the meanwhile. We’ll keep you posted on this one.

Recruitment vertical 
Also at the AAN conference, Poachedjobs is a start-up poaching off of Craiglists for restaurant industry advertisers. They have a number of interesting innovations that allow businesses to see the best qualified applicants first, basically narrowing down the hundreds of resumes that make posting restaurant positions difficult to manage. PoachedJobs was at AAN looking for partners, and told us they are willing to negotiate. We like the technology and somebody has to be first, but we doubt there is a white label option here. Hold out minimally for exclusivity by DMA. 

Adult classifieds
On the radar, AdPerfect is launching another classifieds vertical - and  also going up against a classified giant, only this time it is VillageVoice-owned BackPage, which inherited Adult Classifieds from CraigsList when it caved to pressure from law enforcement agencies. Now BackPage has its own problems, mainly with publicity, but is raking in millions according to some sources. Many publishers are taking the attitude that even if adult is ultimately shut down, it is so highly profitable in the meantime that it is worth setting up - in the right cities of course. AdPerfect's new adult platform will launch shortly on TorontoNow, the largest alternative weekly in the world, sometime this spring. Contact is  derek.mah@adperfect.com.

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.

stranger, ticketmaster, bumbershoot, second street, tim keck, reach local, taponix, clickfuel, google, facebook, adwords, exacttarget, vendasta, localease, trumeasure, analytics, chartbeat, getclicky, aan, kostizi, shopcity.com, frank bravo, embarcadero media group, forkfly, placecast, hopstop, mapbox, craigslist, poachedjobs, asperfect, backpage, villagevoice, torontonow, derek mah