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Olson’s Observations

Technology. Innovation. Science. VC. Media. :: by Eric Olson

Archive for the ‘Future of Content’ Category

Location Based Services and Hyperlocal Info: Business Models

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After reading the last post I put together on this subject you may have found yourself wondering how companies could make any money with LBS and Hyperlocal info based products. I have been thinking of the same thing and here are a handful of ideas that came to mind.


I know, I know… that’s a given and it can be pretty unstable so relying on it as the companies sole source of revenue may not be a perfect solution. However, I think that advertising is only a piece of the puzzle and that it cane work together with the other models I’ll talk about in a minute.

Anyhow, back to advertising. There are a couple components to advertising in hyperlocal content based sites in my mind and if used together they have the potential to work well.

First, you have the basic ad model where you can do deals across all of your content with national advertisers like McDonalds who simply want to be everywhere.

However, you can get interesting with these ad buys by having the ad that comes up dynamically pull in the location of the closest McDonalds (to stay with the example) to the user. This type of advertising would also be a great match for companies like Coldwell Banker. Since they know the users are looking at info and news on a very specific area they can market their agents and properties in that area to the user.

Second, you have the ability to offer a self-serve system that will allow local businesses like pizza places to advertise only in their area. I know people have thought of this and that it does have some issues (i.e. the local pizza joint isn’t thinking about internet ads) but I think you can allow the self-serve system to build via word of mouth and think of it, at least in the beginning, as a nice incremental revenue stream.

Content Resyndication Marketplace:

This is simply what it says - a marketplace to allow for content resyndication. Since the big guys (i.e. papers like the Chicago Tribune) want more distribution of their news you could possibly work with them to include their news headlines into the specific local areas that make sense. The Tribune may then be willing to pay you $0.10 per click on their headlines since they know the make $0.20 per visitor to their site.

It is basically an arbitrage situation that provides a revenue stream to the hyperlocal/LBS business, provides top content to the hyperlocal/LBS business and drives more pageviews to the big news organizations. Seems like a win win to me. (The genesis of this idea came from the talented Mr. Rick Klau.)

Licensing/White Label Solution:

Working on the thesis that hyperlocal content will be a big part of the news business going forward I arrived at the conclusion that a hyperlocal content company could provide an “out-of-the-box” (aka white label) solution to companies like the Tribune that will instantly give them a wealth of hyperlocal data and content.

The hyperlocal info company could get paid in a few different ways for this type of service including:

- Monthly/yearly fees
- Ad revenue share (company sells, Tribune sells or a combo of both)
- Combo of the two models

I am sure there are many other ideas to monetize these types of businesses (like booking fees, convenience fees, etc. that would work well with LBS companies) as well but these were a few that came to mind quickly. There is definitely a future here and I can’t wait to see the space emerge in a big way.

Written by Eric Olson

May 31st, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Human Computer Interaction, Location Based Services & Hyperlocal Content

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What do these things have in common you ask? They are all things I am excited about. Shouldn’t that be enough to include them in the same post? This is my blog after all. Anyway… on with the post.

Human Computer Interaction

Human Computer Interaction and advances in that space are always going to be something that gets us computer geeks going. The latest interesting innovation in that area is Microsoft’s new Surface Computing initiative. The initiative was announced and shown off at the D conference the other day. Check out the demo video on on10 to see this thing in action.

When can I get one? I am sure that question is on your mind and it surely is on mine. Larry Larsen tells us via the on10 blog post that these surface computers will first show up in the hands of Microsoft Partners (i.e. Las Vegas Casinos, etc.) but they will roll out to consumers in short order especially when they can hit the right price points for the average Joe.

Location Based Services and Hyperlocal Information:

While my friend Brad Feld is super excited about Human Computer Interaction as an investment theme (and he should be - Harmonix Music Systems (makers of Guitar Hero) was an investment made on that theme and he did pretty well on that one and you know more of these interesting innovations will break into the mainstream over time) if I were an investor I’d also be excited about companies built around Location Based Services and Hyperlocal Information.

It seems that the evolution of the internet is heading toward a system where you can find hyperlocal information of interest to you and others in your area and location based services that will tell you where things are around you at any given time. These two things will most likely work hand in hand to get you hyperlocal information based on where you are currently located.

A good example of a location based service is ParkWhiz based right here in Chicago. They inform drivers of where parking is near where they are going. They also give you all the pricing information and are even working to allow you to reserve your spot before you even leave the house.

A couple more great examples are hyperlocal content sites Outside.In and EveryBlock (still in development). Outside.In shows you stories/blog posts from folks around you and EveryBlock, Adrian Holovaty’s new project (another Chicagoan), will bring an unprecedented level of hyperlocal information right to your fingertips.

Location based services like ParkWhiz and sites that provide hyperlocal info like Outside.In and EveryBlock seem to be the future. Keep an eye out for new start-ups in the hyperlocal and location based services arenas. As things start to progress further into the mainstream (like cell phone technology, GPS technology and the mobile web for example) these services will become increasingly more valuable.

Written by Eric Olson

May 30th, 2007 at 1:12 pm

The Future of Online Content: Audience Engagement

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WWWAs you may have noticed I have started to work more pieces on media into Olson’s Observations as of late. This is of course due to the fact that I work at FeedBurner on the publisher services team and, thus, spend a lot of time thinking about online media metrics, distribution, promotion and monetization. That said, I am now going to start putting fingers to keyboard on more of those thoughts and more of what we’re thinking about at FeedBurner. Without further adieu here is the first post in the Future of Online Content series.

Where the Heck is My Content?

Content is becoming more and more distributed as time moves forward and the engine that is providing the backbone for all of the new distribution methods is, you guessed it, feeds! Whether it’s people consuming content in a newsreader, on a personalized homepage, or in a widget that appears on their desktop it’s all powered by feeds.

While the newsreader is not ubiquitous as of yet I think it is safe to say that a lot of people are using one and a lot more will be using feeds as they get into Internet Explorer 7. It is now time to start thinking about the future and the future is widgets (Couldn’t we have thought of a more fun name than that? Where are the marketing guys?).

Widgets are the next big thing and for good reason. They allow content to go almost anywhere and, for the most part, they are easy to implement and to use. We at FeedBurner saw the emergence of widgets coming which is why we have made it easy for FeedBurner users to create a widget of their feed content through Fox Interactive’s SpringWidgets platform. This widget can be easily placed on a desktop, MySpace page, Facebook page, website, e-mail, etc. and it’s all powered by the feed (watch for more widget options to come). Check my widget out.

So, that’s great and all but how do publishers know what the consumption of their widgets looks like? Right now there are some people building widget metrics packages but I think the real value comes in seeing your site stats, feed stats, widget stats, kooble stats (well, that last one was made up but it stands for whatever is next in the world of content distribution - koobles are gonna be big ya know!) in one place.

The total content distribution picture is what we at FeedBurner are working hard to provide you. Next up is widget stats and tighter integration between site and feed stats. This combination of stats will get publishers closer than ever before to a view of overall audience engagement. Sahhhhhweeeeeet!

Audience engagement will be key for publishers going forward. Whatever comes next, whether it is koobles or something else, we’re thinking of it now and we’ll have stats and products to help publishers take advantage of and track the new medium. I am very excited for 2007 since it will no doubt be a breakthrough year for distributed media, widgets and FeedBurner. Publish on!

Written by Eric Olson

January 22nd, 2007 at 11:29 pm