Inhabiting a small but potentially valuable corner of the local search world are geodomains — sites like Boston.com whose intuitive URLs give them a leg up in direct navigation traffic and branding.
Boston.com might be a bad example because it is the online home of The Boston Globe and a darling of the online newspaper world. Generally geodomains are positioned more as city-guide-like sites that contain varying volumes of local listings and advertising (though some are affiliated with newspapers).
Though it doesn’t like to characterize them as geodomains, Marchex’s extensive network of local sites also contains many geo-like domains such as Newyorkdoctors.com or 90210.com.
There is a wide range of quality with geodomains and some have been characterized as having wanting levels of diverse and unique local content. Associated Cities is an organization trying to change this perception and raise the bar for the industry. Through membership and events, the organization gives geodomain owners a venue through which to make contacts, share best practices and improve their sites.
The organization’s vice president and vice chairman is Dan Pulcrano, who is also head of Metro Newspapers and the Boulevards New Media network of geodomains. Pulcrano has an interesting history as a journalist and newspaper publisher in Silicon Valley, and was one of the first individuals to buy up a bunch of geodomains circa 1993. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing him on stage at TKG’s Drilling Down on Local conference in April.
One thing that impressed me about Pulcrano was his track record as an oddsmaker in the online local media world — long before there was an online local media world. Here is a quote from 1993, right around the time he bought his first geodomains:
“We will likely see a migration (to the web) of classified and personal advertising, along with the introduction of “electronic yellow pages” type services. The electronic medium offers several advantages to print: instant search capabilities based on predetermined criteria, direct placement of ads by readers, instant updating, and the ability to responds to ads electronically.”
Not bad for 1993. This was pre-consumer broadband and pre-Netscape Navigator — only after which the WWW was brought into the mainstream and lots of online business models were brought to light (many of which shouldn’t have been). Along with this has come Pulcrano’s general attitude toward online as a disruptive force for traditional media like newspapers, and the geodomain opportunity to be at the center of it.
In two weeks, Associated Cities will host its annual GeoDomain Expo at the W Hotel in Chicago. It will be produced by The Kelsey Group, and we hope to have a good presence at the show and learn more about the geodomain opportunity and the growth potential still to come in the space. If you’re interested in more information about the show go here and check out AC’s interview with John Kelsey. Hope to see you there.