If the first two decades of the local Internet were primarily about on-boarding traffic, then CBS Local Digital Media President Ezra Kucharz foresees that the next decade will be about “opening doors to consumers, getting them the information they want, and getting them to transact.”
This philosophy drives CBS Local’s digital philosophy across its 28 owned-and-operated TV stations and 39 radio properties. Four consumer desires undergird this strategy: robust content (news, sports, local info, weather and traffic), business listings, local deals and answers to local questions. Kucharz shared with the ILM:10 audience that CBS Local will launch a Local Answers platform in January that will address queries as diverse as “who do the Yankees play?” and “who’s a trusted plumber?”
Like so many others who see deals as the hottest inferno of opportunity in the red-hot local ecosystem, Kucharz is also a believer. He spearheaded CBS’ deals launch four months ago and calls local deals “the best way for SMB to get local consumers in the door right now.” He also stresses that business listings must include “rich experiences” that exceed mere links within a directory.
Of course, none of these insights is necessarily new, so what positions CBS Local to capitalize where others may fail?
According to Kucharz, the network’s well-etched brand advantages with its local business partners distinguish it. SMBs encounter several problems in moving their message and money online, from an aversion to complex digital buying to a lack of creative to a general lack of coherent strategy. CBS’ formula to leverage its assets is “the reach of traditional media + the targeting of online media + mobile media = results for SMBs.”
To generate even greater brand and platform synergies, CBS Local is in the process of rolling up its various properties in major markets under a larger banner. In New York, for instance, three radio and one TV have been fused into CBS New York. This approach will scale to its 24 major metros in 2011. The bundled effects (both in revenue and traffic) of rolling up individual properties into an aggregated brand have produced “1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 7″ benefits.