Patch initiative and every few months a new hyperlocal news effort is announced, sparking the morbid curiosity of the news industry to see how it will eventually work or fail.Hyperlocal and mobile news are the big news industry buzzwords these days. AOL is going all out with its
Google may be coming to kill them all.
Google announced today that its "News Near You" product, tied into Google News, will be available from Android and iPhones browsers. The beauty of this for Google is that it costs them essentially nothing to roll out this service whereas Patch and other local initiatives like Washington, D.C.-centric TBD.com spent considerable sums to break into the hyperlocal market. Can Google come in and wipe them aside in one fell swoop?
If you visit Google News from your phone it will prompt you for location and ask for news categories (business, tech, etc.) that interest you. A quick study from my Samsung Galaxy S gave me more than a dozens news stories from Tysons Corner, Va., the closest city designation from my location.
News companies are always wary of Google and especially Google News with the mistaken notion that the search giant has hastened the death of their revenue model. In that vein, media outlets large and small are probably not incredibly keen on seeing Google further entrench its news footprint in their backyards. There are a lot of facts and figures thrown around the hyperlocal advertising market but $100 billion is the number that is pegged by industry watchers ravenous for cash streams. If that number seems excessively high, think that it involves all local advertising of any sort across the entire United States. Almost all purchasing decisions are made locally and advertisers crave an audience that is as granular as possible that can bring feet to local stores and franchise chains.
As yet, no one large company has been able to gain a significant foothold in the market. The Washington Post tried with a failed initiative in Loudoun County, Va., the New York Times has a couple ongoing efforts with "The Local" and there are small startups across the country looking to cash in.
It comes down to a matter of consumer habit and preference. News sites that tend to do well in local markets are ones that are ingrained in the community and become as much a forum for what is happening locally as a news source. Listserv lists still fulfill this purpose as do local blogs. At the same time, Google has a great approach to hyperlocal - Google News is a widely used product, the appetite for local news via smartphone is growing and Google simply flicks a switch or two on its algorithm and entire segments of the population are served. Mobile "News Near You" may seem like a small update to an existing product, but its consequences could have a more profound impact than many people think.