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.

Yahoo News Focuses on Local

Yahoo has re-envisioned and enlarged its local news service. The new service, which has over 400 content sources in 82 markets, reflects the ease of RSS feeds, and Yahoo’s long-term desire to better engage local media companies. While still unbranded, it basically replaces a local tab that had hosted content from 32 markets, including Knight Ridder and Tribune properties.

In its current beta form, the new local news service grabs multiple headlines from each source via RSS; runs article summaries; and segregates content by media outlet. Many of the featured markets have eight or more media outlets. So far, these include newspapers, TV stations and radio stations.

Project director Elizabeth Osder, a 15 year veteran of interactive journalism, says she hopes the content offerings become even more granular, perhaps to the level of high school newspapers. At the same time, she says a key focus is to become a better partner of the major media outlets in every city. “We’re looking at ways to highlight local media. We need (outlets like) The Cleveland Plain Dealer to continue to be important in Cleveland.” The differentiator here, she emphasizes, is Yahoo’s ability to leverage RSS and personalization.

‘Views’ or ‘Calls’? Yelp is Agnostic

Yelp is differentiating itself from InsiderPages, Judy’s Book and other review-based Yellow Pages by giving local advertisers a choice: buying a “calls program” (Pay-Per-Call) or a “view program” (Pay-Per- Click).

CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told The Local Onliner that advertisers want to set a monthly Internet ad budget. It doesn’t matter whether they reach their ceiling via pay-per-call or pay per click, he says – and in any case, many walk-in businesses aren’t judging their advertising ROI based on the phone calls they receive.

Familiarity also plays a factor. In the Bay Area, which is Yelp’s headquarters, many advertisers have already used CitySearch’s pay- per click system, which is three years old. Other sites have found that Pay-Per-Call provides a much higher return, typically in the $4-7 range. But it will be interesting to see whether Yelp sticks to its hybrid program, which seems well-thought out to me.

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.

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.