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Mar 12 2006
Knight Ridder Goes to McClatchy
After much handwringing and anticipation, The N.Y. Times (reg. req'd) is reporting that "Knight Ridder, the second-largest newspaper company in the United States, agreed Sunday night to sell itself for about $4.5 billion in cash and stock to the McClatchy Company ... Under the terms of the deal, McClatchy agreed to pay about $67 a share in cash and stock for Knight Ridder, these people said. About 60 percent of the payment will be in cash, while the rest will be in McClatchy shares."

A much smaller entity, McClatchy gets some new Internet assets (i.e., Topix.net and ShopLocal) -- both McClatchy and Knight Riddder are part of Classified Ventures � and Knight Ridder stays with newspaper owners. Had private equity bought it I shudder to think what might have happened � slash and burn. (I may have spoken too soon as McClatchy plans to sell the Knight Ridder "flagships.")

McClatchy's Sacramento Bee (its flagship) has been experimenting with a directory collaboration at Sacramento.com (powered by PremierGuide). While newspaper-directory alliances aren't really viable except in isolated pockets, and Sacramento.com isn't perfect (and it's not the SacBee site), it's much closer to what I believe the newspapers should be doing to compete in local search than what most of them currently are.

It will be interesting to watch the Internet strategy evolve as McClatchy takes the helm of Knight Ridder. (The San Jose Mercury News folks clearly are diappointed by the plans to sell it and other CA newspapers.)

___________

Related: The Newspaper Assn. America reported that Q4 print ad spending was flat, while online ad spending at newspaper sites was strong. According to the NAA, "spending for print ads in newspapers totaled $13.7 billion, up 0.4 percent versus the same period a year earlier, while ad spending online continued its double-digit growth in the fourth quarter, increasing by 32.5 percent from the same period a year ago to $552 million."

Here's the release, which breaks out spending by category.




Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  23:06 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 12 2006
MySpace Messenger
A new IM product is coming from MySpace (what isn't?). This is according to a post today from Om Malik. Here are the pages on MySpace. AOL is the IM leader, followed by Yahoo! and MSN, with Google a distant fourth. MySpace IM could ramp pretty quickly because the site has such critical mass among the IM demographic. It represents a potentially powerful ad/promotional vehicle for Fox � we'll see.

According to a late 2004 study (now likely outdated), the folks at Pew found that more than four in 10 online Americans IM, for a population then of about 53 million in the U.S. About one-fourth then used IM at work.

Paradoxically there's momentum toward interoperability, but launches like MySpace IM also point to general resistance toward open IM (not withstanding alliances like Yahoo!-MSN) and reflect an effort to maintain a "walled garden" around users. Companies such as Meebo are trying to address (leverage) the proliferation of incompatible IM systems while they're still incompatible. Now they can add MySpace to the list.

Here are some November 2005 data on IM trends/usage from an AOL-commissioned study. The research found that 38 percent of online consumers are sending as many (or more) IMs than e-mails. One-third of IM users send mobile IMs or text messages from their cellphones at least once a week. And, generally, IM usage is trending upward.

Google has merged IM and e-mail and I would expect to see all the majors do so. The distinctions between IM and e-mail are somewhat artificial anyway.

Expect a mobile version of MySpace IM to be rolled out quickly.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  22:33 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 12 2006
'Nichification' of Video
This Saul Hansell article from The N.Y. Times (reg. req'd) does a nice survey of some of the trends in online and offline video. The world of niche TV (don't say "long tail") is coming and search engines � if they get their acts together � look to figure prominently in organizing what will be an explosion of video online. Last year we wrote about the transformation of TV from a mass medium into one that would have to rely increasingly on targeting to deliver value to advertisers.

TV (even cable) will be fighting for audiences in the years to come. It's going to be fascinating to watch.

At the upcoming Drilling Down event, we'll be exploring this fragmentation of traditional media audiences. In particular, the following session will address the fragmentation of TV/video:

1,000,001 Channels: But Is Anybody Watching?
TV used to be simple for everyone. But the newly fragmenting world of video search, mobile TV, on-demand cable and IPTV makes the range of potential consumer choices staggering. What are the new technologies that are rapidly turning TV from a mass medium to one that is highly personalized? What is the new consumer �video consumption� model, and what are the implications for networks, content producers and advertisers? Will a million �Wayne�s Worlds� and the potential �Tower of Babel� effect destroy the medium for advertisers or open it up to a range of exciting new possibilities, including some for SMEs?
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:05 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]



Mar 11 2006
eBay Invests in Community Site Meetup.com
eBay (among several others) has invested in local community site Meetup.com. Here's more detail, from a recent article in BusinessWeek:

Founded in 2002, Meetup first gained national attention for launching Howard Dean's brief Presidential candidacy during the 2004 elections. The site had 54,000 Meetup groups listed last May, when it began charging a small subscription fee of up to $19 monthly to sponsor the groups. Since then the number of groups has dropped to just over 10,000.

In addition to eBay, the Omidyar Network, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Esther Dyson, Allen & Co. and Sen. Bill Bradley have collectively obtained a 10% equity interest. Given the proliferation of "social media" sites, I would expect to see a roll-up or other consolidation in the space in the not-too-distant future.

Here's the Meetup release (scroll).

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:43 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 10 2006
Interchange for Sale?
According to this Reuters article:

Interchange Corp., owner of search engine Local.com, said on Tuesday that it has retained investment banking firm Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. to assist in reviewing strategic alternatives available to the company in connection with its national search business.

The article says "national" search business � not local. We'll investigate.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  20:19 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 10 2006
'Skype Me' Appearing on eBay
Making good on the promise of the acquisition, eBay is apparently now putting "Skype Me" modules on eBay to connect buyers and sellers in real time (testing in Europe). This makes eBay's local reach potentially much greater than it is now.

The intrepid Om Malik is the source: read more.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  19:35 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 10 2006
MySpace PR: It Just Keeps Getting Worse
If you're too successful then the media starts looking closely to find your warts. MySpace joins a long list of companies now feeling the real heat of negative press after a kind of Icarus climb to the sun. After many glowing industry stories about page views and time on site, etc., JupiterResearch came out and said that MySpace traffic/counts were inflated. Then the mainstream media backlash began. To date that's been focused on stalkers and pedophiles using MySpace to target potential victims.

But now comes this story about how MySpace (and other networking sites) are being used to plan potential terrorist attacks. I'm not talking here about whether the underlying facts are true. I'm discussing the downward PR spiral that now seems to have MySpace firmly in its grip. So far it hasn't hurt the site's usage. But too much more negative press may hurt it as a potential promotional vehicle for Fox or brands that may want to get at its youthful audience.

There's been considerable talk of the risks of associating brands with user-generated content and social networks. They're unpredictable and volatile unlike traditional media. But the danger now for Fox and other potential advertisers is that MySpace becomes permanently associated with all this unseemly activity (regardless of whether the underlying allegations are factually correct).

This is a fascinating thing to watch from my point of view.

_________

Here's a Vanity Fair piece on the founders and the history of MySpace. It's generally flattering.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  11:52 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Mar 10 2006
New Borrell Data on Local
Borrell put out its own new local search projections (covered in MediaPost here):

[P]aid search spending by local businesses will continue to grow for the next several years, climbing to 1.7 billion in 2007 and reaching $4 billion by 2010 � at which time it will account for 47 percent of local online advertising.

Whenever people start talking about local search they need to start with definitions. In fairness it's difficult for me to comment on the predictions and assumptions because I'm only reading an article on the report. But with that disclaimer ... The Kelsey Group local search (geotargeted search, Internet YP and mobile local search) forecast is $6.167 billion by 2010. If you fold in classifieds, (which is part of the same user behavior) our forecast grows to $9.9 billion in 2010. We don't include geotargeted display ads in this forecast or locally targeted ads that may appear on verticals (although the classifieds aspect does capture a good deal of this).

One of the things many people don't fully understand is the enormous complexity of the local market "on the ground" and the fragmented and complex consumer behavior patterns associated with local/offline buying.

Here's an interesting discussion from the MediaPost article:

To analyze the current state of local search advertising, Borrell researchers examined more than 2,100 paid links to appear on Google and Yahoo queries for city-related keywords � such as, for example, "Des Moines real estate." About 36 percent of such pay-per-click links were from local advertisers � up from 5.6 percent 18 months ago.

Search adoption varied by industry, with local real estate agents especially big users of search marketing. Nearly 50 percent of pay-per-click links in the real estate category were from local advertisers � up from 17.5 percent 18 months ago. At the low end of the spectrum, 28 percent of pay-per-click results in the local hotel space came from local advertisers.


I'm going to assume the accuracy of what the article says. Real estate is an especially interesting category for local businesses and is something of a leading indicator of future trends. But real estate may also be exceptional. It's a truly local business with limited "national" competition. And generally speaking you're not going to see a phenomenon of local businesses going straight to Google, Yahoo! or MSN in large numbers in the near future (over the long term all bets are off). You may see it in pockets and there are verticals and local markets in which the sophisticated local advertiser has the money and incentive to outbid a national aggregator or competitor.

Most of the search volume is at the "category level," which doesn't permit local advertisers to compete because the nationals will gobble up the meaningful, available inventory (which is quite limited). In the "tail," locals can compete more effectively for inventory � and those clicks convert better too. But most local small businesses will need to rely on third-party "enablers" (e.g., YP, newspapers, verticals, Web hosts) to get them into search results (whether organic or paid). They can't, won't or don't want to become search-engine marketers. Certainly we can point to exceptions � the upholsterer who pores over his site analytics � but this statement is true in the aggregate.

So while you may see lots more local ads on Google, Yahoo! and MSN (because they're more targeted and convert better) don't expect those ads to be dominated by small businesses any time soon.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  09:51 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [1]





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