Ideas and discussion from BxB2010 Summit

What You Missed if You Didn’t Go To the Advertising Breakout at Block By Block Community News Summit

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Breakout session on Ad Networks:

This is a bit of a stream of consciousness of some of the high points of the session, lead by Mark Potts:

Mark Potts is the CEO of and ran one of the first hyperlocals in the US:, now defunct.

Growthspur is trying to leverage local site “ecosystems”, giving advertisers access to different sites in the same local area. They track the inventory, delivered from their server, handled by their accounting in an effort to deliver the whole business back end.

He says it’s best for us to do the ad selling, rather than “reps,” even if we are selling for the competition.

Jeremy Iggers of Twin Cities in Minneapolis questioned the 30% commission that growthspur takes for this.

Peter Sklar of edhat in Santa Barbara: “Every business we talk to gets 15 people in there every day trying to sell them an ad.” Potts: but they know you, you’re not a call center in Boca.

I asked about national advertising eco-systems, so that we could leverage national ad buys. Potts said the CPM is still too low even if we got a million eyeballs.

Stephen Franklin of the Community Media Workshop in Chicago said New American Media links ethnic news media across the United States.

Potts envisions “Citizen ad sales” like “citizen journalists,” entrepreneurial ad sales for someone looking for 2nd income.

The “advertise here” button is a myth (putting it on the home page of your site to draw advertising) – no one uses it.

No one has ever paid for content, you paid for delivery of content: the 25 cents in the box. Except in cases like the new Bloomberg bureau in DC that will charge $6000 a year for specialized content that corporations and lobbyists will pay for.

Potts thinks the NYTimes paid content launch is a bluff.

Westport, CT has 5-6 sites; town has 30,000 people.

Any advertiser that’s buying thru an agency is looking for a CPM. CPM is not a word in local advertising.

Potts: “Google and yahoo together have more than 50% of the local on line ad biz, 12 m a year- the biggest indictment of the newspaper industry that there is.”

David Boraks at define a town/demographic as one that has a soul.

Steve Rhodes of the Beachwood Reporter said Patch picks demographics based on suburban affluence and what is there to report in those people…that’s why these things fail.

Harsh words between Steve Rhodes and Mark Potts about why Back Fence failed. Potts said it was internal; how could he know?

David Boraks- we wanted to fill an information need but we have to find a way to sustain this.

Mark – we are doing the Lord’s work here; this is the future of local news.


Written by Polly Kreisman

September 25, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Just to be clear: I don’t know much about Backfence’s internal financial problems. I was describing what I see as the failure of the business/editorial model – failure to attract enough readers and advertisers – which seemed premised, like Patch (and the Tribune’s Digital Cities before it) on picking affluent communities because of their marketing demographics instead of picking communities with a need for a news product. This was in response to Mark describing the “ideal hyperlocal community” based on demographics instead of need and newsiness. This isn’t just a marketing exercise; the “product” is journalism.


    September 25, 2010 at 7:39 pm

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