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A short presentation giving ten examples of different hyperlocal business models being used by start-ups and traditional media (mostly from the UK). Please feel free to add other examples as this list is by no means exhaustive.
Hyperlocal 101: Part One, 10 hyperlocal business models
Part One: Business Models
Damian Radcliffe, 20th July 2013
Image via: http://nikolasschiller.com/gis/3D_buildings_nadir.jpg
Funding – and sustainability - is perhaps
hyperlocal media’s biggest challenge.
But new models are emerging alongside existing ones…
Traditional media and start ups are all experimenting...
These slides include examples of
10 business models we’ve seen
emerge in the past couple of
years. There are many more.
Localpeople, part owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust plc. offers franchising
opportunities as they look to expand their network beyond their current portfolio of 160
sites. Their website states that over 750,000 people visit localpeople sites each
month, generating over 2 million pageviews.
• Potential franchisee’s are promised three days initial training, as well as operator
manual, and on-going support from both HQ and the wider franchisee community.
• Franchises will offer exclusivity within a clearly defined local area. DMGT say that
typically each territory will cover a population of 20,000 – 80,000 inhabitants.
• The cost of this is initial investment was originally £6995+VAT, (it is now £3995+VAT).
Their website claims:
• “You could earn an income of over £5000 per month.”
Examples of new sites built using the Localpeople template:
www.leamingtonspapeople.co.uk / www.glossoppeople.co.uk / www.wirralpeople.co.uk
2. Advertising only models
• Postcode Gazette was an ad-funded start-up, which launched a pilot in Sheffield in 2011.
• Although it still has a Facebook page, the Twitter and Website links no longer work –
suggesting the model – which sought to deliver “hyperlocal news on a national scale” to
mobile devices produced by thousands of publishers responsible for small areas.
“As a rough rule of thumb, we are thinking in terms of one local publisher for every 5,000 people.
Rather than one person to cover a town, or a handful to cover a city, we're aiming for 50 or 100.
The challenge for us is making sure we have enough skilled people working with us.”
Other advertising models
• A more successful venture is the NeighbourNet network which launched in West
London in 2000. It runs 9 sites including ChiswickW4.com.
ChiswickW4.com receives over
180,000 visits each month
(Google Analytics) and 60,000
Total site membership of the site
is 21,041 (Dec 2012). Of these
over 15,950 receive our weekly
e-mail newsletter. Membership
is free. http://bit.ly/115TzNi
The site is funded by advertising.
“ We try to ensure that this doesn't limit your enjoyment of the site. You can help keep the site
free and the amount of advertising restricted by always telling our sponsors that you saw their ad
with us. Nearly all of our advertisers are smaller independent local businesses.” http://bit.ly/tBvz69
3. Trusts & Foundations
“The Detail aims to help put investigative journalism at the core of the news industry in Northern Ireland.
It aims not to challenge existing news outlets, broadcast or newspaper, but to supplement them.”
• The site has an editor and four full-time journalists as well as a dedicated video editor.
Sources: http://bit.ly/ha6OV7 and http://bit.ly/eTWOTQ
The Detail - an investigative journalism portal for
Northern Ireland launched in 2011.
It received 2 years of funding, £790k, from Atlantic
Philanthropies (£640k) and Screen NI (£150k).
The site notes: “We have no intention of diluting
the increasingly difficult newspaper sector and do
not sell advertising. Instead we have published
investigations in partnership with longer-
The now defunct Journalism Foundation
funded a couple of hyperlocal projects during
2012, as well as a free online toolkit for people
who want to learn how to build a local
Support included the Brixton Blog and their
print edition, the Brixton Bugle.
In April, The Journalism Foundation distributed
50,000 copies of a special print edition of local
news website Pits n Pots to houses in Stoke-
on-Trent. Journalism.co.uk reported this
doubled their web traffic: http://bit.ly/Is8l5G
The Carnegie Trust funded a £50,000
competition - Neighbourhood News -
to improve local news reporting.
Five winners (from 77 applications)
received £10,000 funding in return for
participating in an external evaluation
of their new local news project.
• DMGT’s Northcliffe Media, home to 113 regional newspapers, forged a joint partnership
with Trinity Mirror's Regionals sales house, AMRA, to create a commercial proposition
that encompasses more than 260 titles, including nine of the 10 biggest regional paid-
for titles in the UK.
Steve Auckland, group managing director of Northcliffe Media, said:
“While our teams will miss the Mediaforce team, we are really excited at
the prospect of gaining advertising revenue through this new arrangement."
While Brand Republic commented on the significance of the move:
“ The new sales partnership represents a significant move for
regional newspapers, paving the way for economies of scale as
well as the opportunity to offer a more comprehensive regional
sell to the market.”
5. Daily Deals and Vouchers
STV previoudly launched a
venture offering discount
deals to registered users in
Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Daily Deals service saw
the broadcaster's classified
team work with local businesses to source offers which are
sent to readers via email alerts.
Johnston Press and vouchers company
Nimble Commerce announced a new online
vouchers business a couple of years ago.
(Johnston also diversified further still by
introducing a business directory, called Find It).
Caerphilly Observer offers a
range of advertising
opportunities as well as
Groupon Deals on its
“Sensing an opportunity, the property big guns are moving in. Rightmove, the biggest UK
property portal, has been testing Rightmove Places … The site aims to help househunters to
gain a warts-and-all feel for an area beyond the property listings on the main part of the site.”
Susan Emmett, The Times, February 18th 2011
Ray Duff on the HU12.net website described it as:
“… a cross between a review website and a social network.
Users can post information and photos about a place, and write about their opinions of services in an area
i.e. character and personality, neighbourliness, restaurants and eating, etc.
Earlier in 2011 Rightmove reported they
had 10m visitors a month, although ‘places’
is still in beta (according to their main site
logo, but not their FAQ which notes that the
new website went live on October 19th
2011). Visit it here: http://www.rightmoveplaces.co.uk/
7. Training & Consultancy
Training MONTV is an online website providing “Local Television for Monmouthshire” in
Wales. After securing an initial grant from the local council the group moved into
media training, delivering the City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Media Techniques to
students. Their trainer is the only paid member of staff.
The team now also provide hosting services for other IPTV services too.
Oakland Local, provides services such as training or Web development to local
businesses, community organisations and other online news publishers.
Before Kickstarter, there was Spot Us
Launched in November 2008, aimed to
pioneer “community funded reporting” by
getting freelance journalists to pitch
specific news stories, explaining online why
the topic deserves further investigation.
If members of the public agree, they can make a donation — sometimes just $10 or $20
— to pay the journalist to produce a more detailed story. Their website lists contributors
(whose donations are tax deductible) as well as “Almost Funded Stories” and “Unfunded
Stories”. They then partner with news organisations, by licensing content to them.
By November 2011 it had produced over 225 projects (“some are single stories some are
6 months of covering a specific topic some are 6 months of a big investigation”) working
with 110 different publishing partners.
In November 2011, it was also announced that Spot.Us was acquired by American Public Media.
9. Local paywalls
Very little discussion of this in the UK,
but plenty in North America….
Following a "metered model" experiment,
Canada's largest newspaper publisher in
2011 announced plans to erect paywalls at
its 38 daily and community newspapers.
Postmedia began testing this model in May
2011 on the websites of the Montreal Gazette
and the Victoria Times-Colonist.
Postmedia Network will allow online readers
access to a certain number of free articles
before prompting them to pay for more.
Source: http://bit.ly/uIEPKB and http://bit.ly/suu6X8
“A decade ago we started to give it away
on the Web ... everybody in the newspaper
business is looking in the rearview mirror
and saying, what the heck did we do?”
“Newspapers are going to need this going forward
… It’s only a matter of time.”
Postmedia’s CEO Paul Godfrey
But in March 2011 an internet survey by The
Canadian Media Research Consortium of 1,682
Canadian adults, showed audiences were
overwhelmingly opposed to fees for content.
92% of those who get news online said they
would find another free site if their favourite
news sites started charging for content.
10. Hybrid models
The London SE1 Website has
multiple income streams.
These include Google Ad
Words through to
Classifieds, a monthly
printed “What’s On” Guide
and affiliate relationships
with local businesses in the
It has been successfully
operating since 1998.
This list isn’t exhaustive.
If you have other examples, please add
them in the comments or send me a tweet!
About the Author: @damianradcliffe
Damian Radcliffe is a Doctoral Student and an Honorary Research Fellow at
Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.
He has written about hyperlocal media for a number of organisations and
media outlets including: Ofcom, the BBC College of Journalism, Networked
Neighbourhoods, journalism.co.uk and the Democratic Society.
In 2012 NESTA published his landscape report - “Here and Now” – the first
comprehensive review of the UK’s hyperlocal scene.
Links to Damian’s extensive hyperlocal writing and research can be
found via his personal website: www.damianradcliffe.com/hyperlocal