Traditional news outlets are looking closer to home for ways to remain competitive, and in some cases, to survive. Many of these newspapers and television and radio stations are latching on to a trend of going “hyperlocal” with their content—serving the information needs of local neighborhoods or communities—as a way to counter the problems of falling ad revenue, shrinking subscription/viewership/listener bases, and rising costs.
The catch is that, so far, a hyperlocal focus of content isn’t being backed by a hyperlocal breakthrough in ad sales.
Forrester Research‘s recent report entitled “Is Hyperlocal Hype or Happening?” found a “disconnect between the source consumers rely on for local news and information versus those they rely on for business listings.” The majority of these consumers are still using traditional means of locating the goods and services they desire.
The report discovered that 74 percent of offline consumers and 66 percent of online consumers still turn to the Yellow Pages directory for local business listings. Meanwhile, the report found Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) results were almost identical to Internet search engines with 31 percent of online consumers using IYP to find listings for local businesses versus 34 percent using search engines.
These results reinforce the Yellow Pages’ historic positioning as the primary source for local business listing information.
To be sure, concerns about lagging local advertising isn’t slowing mainstream news outlets from moving forward with a hyperlocal strategy. Early innovators such as the Journal-World (www2.ljworld.com) in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver (YourHub.com) have led the way for established media companies to see hyperlocalism as a way to win back readers and to target mom-and-pop advertisers who can’t afford to, or simply don’t want to, reach every household in a region.
Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, and the Chicago Tribune (Triblocal.com) have also entered the field. And just last month, the Dallas Morning News rolled out 61 community websites carrying content specifically geared toward each of those communities.
Newspapers aren’t the only ones looking to a hyperlocal approach to improve their product. Yellow Pages providers also are drilling deeper into communities and becoming even more localized and targeted.
The latest step forward comes as R.H. Donnelly launches its new DexKnows IYP platform. The site’s features take local search to the next level, allowing searches by neighborhood or by landmark.
Want to find a dry cleaner in the Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle? How about pizzerias near Coors Field in Denver? The new platform can handle the job, and it can do so in a more intuitive fashion than other local search or IYP sites.
The new DexKnows IYP platform also can differentiate between businesses with fixed locations (your typical retail store) and those based on service areas (the handyman who works a set region). Thus, a search for a heating and cooling company or a plumber who serves your neighborhood won’t simply bring up those located the closest to you, but those who can make house calls in your area.
As IYPs continue to upgrade and advance, the biggest gains seem set to come from becoming increasingly localized and targeted. Those of us in the local search industry will tell you, hyperlocal is definitely not hype. Hyperlocal is happening. And it’s happening in some interesting places.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.