Think Globally, Publish Locally?

In postings yesterday and Tuesday, I suggested that small, relatively-unknown web publishers will have difficulty getting the most desirable advertising support — branding campaigns sponsored by big advertisers. And if small sites pin their revenue hopes on collecting a share of click-thru transactions, they may be disappointed because many buyers make purchases off-line.

So what’s a Mini Media publisher to do? Of course that’s what I’m trying to puzzle out, and today I want to focus on one potential strategy — going local and creating a web publishing venue that fills a need in your own backyard.

This thought is inspired by a recent item from MediaPost. It cites a new report predicting “that businesses will spend $3.9 billion in local online advertising this year–representing an increase of 49 percent from the $2.7 billion spent in local online ads in 2004. By contrast, overall Internet ad spending will increase by 33 percent.”

The report was prepared by the local media consulting firm Borrell Associates which, I am delighted to say, offers a free, 4-page executive summary to people who register and provide an email address.

The summary reveals that most of these dollars are expected to go to web sites sponsored by newspapers, TV and radio stations (which have trusted brands and trained sales forces). The summary includes a spreadsheet that shows the projected dollar take and growth rate for 210 metropolitan areas. My neighborhood, the San Francisco Bay Area, is expected to have one of the largest takes (above $90 million) but a below-par growth rate of 21 percent. I noticed that the Chico-Redding area in north-central California is expected to jump 44.6 percent, albeit to just $3.77 million.

But that captured my imagination. Chico is a hip little college town that might be a great spot for a web entrepreneur to cook up a dream. Of course others would probably have the same idea, and there are incumbent local media with an inside track on those ad dollars. There’s no escaping the fact that the marketplace of ideas is a tough competitive venue.

There’s much more to say about going local — for instance, how — and I’ll look for examples and lessons along those lines in future posts. Meanwhile, I’m just glad to end this week. I’ve had a hellish spell of computer annoyances and I may need to dash off a post this the weekend just to