Thursday, December 6, 2007

Small CityMedia... A Next Generation Local Ad Network

I had a nice chat today with Katherine Wiggett, President of London, Ontario based, CityMedia. Katherine has been busy over the past four years pulling together a portfolio of hyper-local Canadian content.

CityMedia offers local media partners a number of services directed towards monetizing their inventory.

Capitalizing on the market’s readiness for locally targeted online media, CityMedia has aggregated newspapers, radio stations and community news sites to deliver advertising opportunities to (for now) the hungry national channel.

“The model is a win-win” said Katherine as she described the media partners’ desire to drive revenue through their online presence. The challenge to date for these smaller publishers has been the absence of solid revenue models as well as lack of resources to implement the required infrastructure and sales effort behind online sales. CityMedia offers a straight revenue split for media inventory sold. The media publishers are able to keep their own identity and sell their own inventory alongside the network.

The network is currently focused on selling through to the national channel but Katherine is confident that as critical mass is developed, the local advertisers will follow. This follows the same trend we’ve witnessed in the local search space. Katherine says that the network has already attracted national advertisers on its platform.

CityMedia offers solutions ranging from banner placements to audio file conversions (which are later uploaded as measurable MP3 media units).

CityMedia also works on a consultative basis to its media partners by delivering appropriate strategies to drive page impressions and user interactivity to the individual properties. In essence, CityMedia is a distribution channel that monetizes existing content as well as an ad network. Affiliate product revenue could become a growing piece of the puzzle for local media publishers requiring richer content.

The back-end is a proprietary system that works well with all major ad serving technology. The media is re-tagged to create streamlined reporting through the CityMedia interface. Publishers are given logins to upload sold inventory to their properties and are given revenue reporting from the same system.

Networks have made a comeback over the past year due in part, to the shear amount of content that is now available. Whether the networks focus on blogs, social media or local content, the landscape is in its infancy (…again).

When it comes to hyper-local content, it’s a matter of gaining critical mass (and quickly) across the nation. CityMedia is on the right path and has been drumming up interest recently. With around 10 newspapers joining the network each week over the past few months, Katherine just might get the masses she’s after.

More on networks shortly…

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