ShopLocal Sees Shift to Local by 2007

ShopLocal, the women-oriented sales service from Tribune, Knight Ridder and Gannett, is breaking through on local and will see revenue from smaller, local stores outpace revenue from larger, national stores such as Target by 2007 , CEO Brian Hand told The Local Onliner.

Hand notes that the site gets 25 million unique users a month, and has been ranked by ComScore as one of the fastest growing sites anywhere on the Web. The traffic boost is the result of free print- and- online advertising from its partners, as well as carefully-placed SEM and SEO efforts.

Currently, the site has about 20,000 local advertisers. It is pushing to boost the count via local services directories, powered by Planet Discover. It is also getting heavy sales efforts by its newspaper partners. The site also benefits from additional distribution from IYP/search sources such as Switchboard, SuperPages, Local.com and Froogle Local (and consequently, GoogleBase). In all, it has 400 distribution partners, including 150 private label sources. “I don’t care if they know ‘ShopLocal’ as a name,” said Hand.

Hey Jeeves! Should IAC Put CitySearch Under Ask?

Ask Local is a big component of IAC’s relaunch of Ask, and it should be, given the tons of quality local reviews, ratings, listings and other content that IAC’s CitySearch has to provide. Theoretically, it gives Ask a leg up over the other portals – and IAC Head Barry Diller has said as much.

But a question I’d put to the butler is why IAC doesn’t formally put CitySearch under the Ask umbrella. CitySearch, after all, has pretty good traffic from Google, MSN and other affiliates, reaching 14 million unique viewers, according to ComScore. But it isn’t much of a brand, and it is unlikely to spend money to become one.

Probably, CitySearch could benefit from the massive amount of promotion that Ask is about to receive. After all, wasn’t it good when AOL retired Digital City to focus on AOL Local? Wasn’t it good that Yahoo decided to put everything under Yahoo Local instead of building Yahoo Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local Search etc.?

Daily Candy Tempts Local Media Companies

Daily Candy, the fashion-and-trends newsletter with local editions in eight markets and copy right out of “Sex and The City,” is on the block for $100 million. The value seems high, but its young, trendy, female readership could be a good fit with media companies like Fox or IAC that want to hit the local marketplace in non-traditional, non-journalistic formats.

Our guess is that it would be less of a fit with strait-laced, sales-oriented sites like ShopLocal; online Yellow Pages like Verizon SuperPages that are trying to create a retail connection; or the increasing number of newspapers that have developed online shopping verticals. But that’s ok. The latter, especially, would balk at the price, and the journalism.

Daily Candy was started in New York in 2000. After receiving a $3.5 million cash infusion from former AOL President Bob Pittman in 2003, the site has now expanded to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and starting in March, Atlanta.

Why Aren’t Newspapers ‘Real’ Info Companies?

When I was in graduate school in 1985, my economics class was honored with a visit by Tony Hoffman, a noted financial analyst. Hoffman’s key premise was that the real value of USA Today wasn’t the daily circulation, it was the archival value of the daily graphs that the paper features: “How many pounds of ice cream are sold every year,” etc.

At that time, there was a sense that newspapers had a core value as strategic information companies. Knight Ridder still had Dialog, and things appeared to be moving fast into the computer age.

Today, we have few illusions that newspapers do much more than provide throw-away, consumer-oriented news, wrapped around advertising. Sure, some newspapers, especially The New York Times, make secondary revenues on their archives from databases serving the academic, library and legal communities. But newspaper content rarely gets repurposed into more strategic and high end products. For that, newspapers sit on one of the lower rungs of the information industry, just above Yellow Pages, the TV Nets, Val-Pak coupons and The Entertainment Book

Craigslist CEO: We’re No eBay Front

Let the conspiracy theorists have their day. Craigslist is going to continue to do things in its own merry way. It doesn’t expect to step up its activity with minority owner eBay, it isn’t worried about competition, and it isn’t especially embarrassed about its hard-to- search, thin-featured, plain-vanilla technology. All of this according to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, speaking Feb. 1 at the SIIA Summit in New York.

Buckmaster painted a picture of a company that is focused on reaching as many markets as possible and as quickly as possible – while broadening its demographics, which started with “20-30 somethings, but is now skewing older, with lots of users in 40s, 50s, even 60s.” Next up is the targeting of dozens of smaller markets.

While most of the site is free, and will remain so, Craigslist is charging $75 for recruitment ads in the Bay Area, where it has a dominant position. Buckmaster scoffs, however, at former SF Gate GM Bob Cauthorn’s SWAG that Craig has “sucked $50 million” out of the market, mostly at the expense of The San Francisco Chronicle and SF Gate. “It sounds high to me,” he said.

Google’s Ad Chief Talks Up Local

If there were any doubts that Google is dead serious about local, those doubts were dissipated by VP of Advertising Sales Tim Armstrong during a Feb. 1 keynote address to the Software and Information Industry Association’s Summit in New York.

Until recently, local “has been a big challenge,” said Armstrong. But now, “it is probably one of the areas that is going to grow the fastest.”

Armstrong believes that local’s growth is likely to manifest itself in numerous ways. Just 170 terabytes of 5 million possible terabytes have been catalogued. Local stores, for instance, could be catalogued in terms of “physical stores,” “in-store mapping,” “co-op advertising,” and “inventory.” “Users want access to assets,” he said.

Google’s Froogle Ramps Up on Local

Google’s Froogle has been an also-ran among the giant comparative shopping sites, being out-distanced by the likes of eBay’s Shopping.com and Scripps’ Shopzilla. Indeed, Google’s apparent inattention to Froogle has been a mystery.

But this week, Google turned on the burners for Froogle. It announced that it will provide sales-and-inventory search programs for big box and local merchant retailers with ShopLocal, and StepUp, a Bay Area startup that now provides online inventory search for 1,200 retailers in 8,000 locations. Roughly 75 percent of StepUp’s merchant base, or 900 retailers, come from outside the Bay Area. StepUp also has 250 Bay Area specialty retailers, grandfathered from its acquisition of MarketSquare.

The Froogle announcement is actually the first concrete manifestation of GoogleBase, a do-it-yourself classifieds and Yellow Pages builder. While few details of GoogleBase have been released, its mere existence has caused some consternation with local media and commerce companies, who now finally understand that they’ll be directly competing with Google.