What works in digital brand advertising is context. An ad for a bridal salon is out of context on a news site and is unlikely to be effective. Put that same ad on a site for local brides and watch what happens. My experience has been that click-through rates on relevant vertical sites are exponentially higher than on general news sites.
And that’s where Aol is missing the boat.
Aol already has dozens of vertical content sites. If I were heading-up Aol, I’d dump the entire Patch strategy and move toward the evolution of the verticals so that they are both national and local in nature. What if you could go on ParentDish, Aol Autos, KitchenDaily or Engaget and drill down from the national level to also see local content, listings and ads?"
I got a polite earful this morning from Howard Owens in response to my column from yesterday about hyperlocal sites.
Owens takes issue with my position that none of the hyperlocal sites can claim journalistic success, maintaining that The Batavian is an unqualified journalistic success, as are West Seattle Blog, suburban New Jersey's Baristanet, "and a few of the other 'authentically local' news sites sprinkled around the country." He knocks me for citing no data in my curt dismissal of hyperlocal journalism (criticism accepted) and rejects my view that hyperlocal's real traffic competitor is social sites like Facebook.
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