Hyperlocal Keeps Going; OurTown Launches

There are a number of new or re-energized hyperlocal efforts out there, trying to crack the code. New efforts are expected shortly from Outside.in and SmallTown. Ongoing efforts are being made with AmericanTowns, which counts Idearc as a lead investor, and Dallas’ Pegasus News, which is owned by Fisher Communications. CitySquares in Boston continues to build its model. Topix has also remade itself into an aggregation of local news and hyperlocal commenting.

And that’s just a rundown of the hyperlocal efforts that have regional and national aspirations. Some of the best hyperlocal efforts, of course (BaristaNet, WestportNow) are actually tied to specific communities. We also count some well-funded newspaper efforts in that category (LA Times, Boston.com, Washington Post, et al).

This week, The Online Journalism Review covers OurTown, a new hyperlocal chain based in Cincinnati. The site proclaims that it represents “America’s Local Websites. Neighborhood by Neighborhood. Local and Regional Content, Chat, Weather, Maps, Personal & Family Calendar and Community.”

OurTown‘s primary business concept is that local editors will sell the local advertising, keeping most of the revenue; $100 monthly contracts for advertising are envisioned. The site will also have paid classifieds (but free classifieds for individuals).

In addition to local ad dollars, the editors will also get 40 percent of national ad dollars. It is suggested that local editors covering two ZIP codes can make between $45,000 and $60,000 per year.

Eventually, OurTown expects to charge a license fee to the local editors, but as a come-on, it is offering a one-year license for free to the first 1,000 takers. Seventy thousand sites are expected in Year One. The site is being advertised on Google, Yahoo!, Craigslist and other Web sites. While an illustrious advisory board of “top journalists” is claimed, there is no link to such a board on the site, or names of management, for that matter.

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