The Boston Globe Stakes Out a Role in WiFi

The Boston Globe is building out a series of local WiFi “Pulse Points” that provide hyper-local information about the signal area (train stations, book stores, etc.). The paper, which is owned by The New York Times Co., launched two Pulse Points at the end of September, and expects to add some other Pulse Points by the end of the year.

While the Pulse Points only include content today, it doesn’t strain the imagination to see that advertising and transactions could be added in the future. Such a scenario is especially interesting in light of the breezy assumption that Google’s current bid to WiFi all of San Francisco is a slam dunk to sell advertising at the expense of local newspapers, Yellow Pages or TV stations –or all three.

Going forward, the question is whether The Globe and other papers can carve out a role for themselves if the likes of Google assume the hosting responsibilities for WiFi – and presumably, the default browser. We know this: to date, no newspaper has really developed a compelling wireless service worth paying for. Why would they be able to create a more compelling wireless service?

Oodle Loses Craig’s List

Oodle, which aggregates classifieds in 42 cities, has been asked by Craig’s List to stop using it as a source. Craig’s List represents about 20 percent of the company’s 4.5 million listings. To date, Craig’s List has received about one million referrals from Oodle.

Oodle founder and CEO Craig Donato told The Local Onliner that Craig’s List felt there were “server overload” issues, because Oodle sends traffic directly back to the source when an ad is clicked on. “We have a very, very large index,” said Donato.

Donato said that “fixes” were in store, and hopes that Craig’s List reconsiders. Oodle has sought to develop a reputation as being publisher-friendly, and works very well with newspapers, for instance, Donato said. Rather than cannibalize traffic, “we only show enough information” to get people to click through to the originating site.

Insider Pages Bets It All on Pay-Per-Call

InsiderPages, IdeaLabs’ women-oriented social network that collects user-generated reviews for local businesses, says it now has “thousands of pay-per-call advertisers” and “is probably the biggest” pay-per- call network.

In an interview with The Local Onliner, Vice President of Product Andrew Shotland, wouldn’t comment on rumors that the company is in talks to be acquired , but he happily chimes in that the company would be “an interesting fit with a lot of companies.”

He notes that the company already licenses its 350,000 + reviews – including more than 5,000 reviews in each of the Top 30 markets – to one of the biggest Internet brands, and several others. Although Shotland would not reveal names, citing contractual reasons, he notes that “our reviews pop up all over the place.”

Jupiter Forecast: Local $ Grows, But Disappoints

Local advertisers have discovered the Internet and will boost their advertising 26 percent to reach $3.2 billion this year. But after that, they’ll grow just 11 percent per year through 2010, reaching $5.3 billion, according to a new Jupiter Research report, “US Local Online Advertising Forecast, 2005 to 2010.”

According to Jupiter’s analysts, local advertising will fall short in its transition to the Net, as most local businesses will be slow to jump online. Instead, local online advertising will remain centered on national firms targeting on a localized basis.

Why? The portals won’t invest in local sales forces, and existing local advertisers see better leads coming from word of mouth, magazines, trade shows and other offline marketing tactics. “They are just beginning to build databases of email addresses,” notes Jupiter.

Usage Study: 22% Quit Yellow Pages for Net

Just 22 percent of American adults say they strongly agree that “the Computer” has replaced the print Yellow Pages (YP) in their lives, according to The Yellow Pages Association’s 2005 Industry Usage Report, which was conducted by Knowledge Networks among 9,208 adults.

But even some of those adults apparently sneak a look at The Yellow Pages once in a while. The research showed that 89 percent use the print YP at least once a year, 75 percent at least once a month, and 51 percent at least once a week.

While penetration remains strong, usage continues to fall. Currently, adults who use the Yellow Pages average 1.29 lookups a week, down from 1.4 lookups in 2003 and over 2 lookups in the 1990s. The decline in lookups was especially severe in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles, where residents average .6 lookups per week.

Infinity Adds AOL Local Content

Viacom’s Infinity Broadcasting is focused on ramping up its Radiomat streaming network for all 183 stations in 22 markets, and will add AOL Local content. At the same time, however, it will pull out of AOL Radio, where it has streamed seven of its major stations since 2003.

Infinity’s pullout of its stations may have something to do with AOL’s recent tie to XM Radio, which now handles most of AOL’s radio programming. Infinity is currently developing a competing subscription service, HD Radio, in partnership with other key radio players.

TV-Based Local Services Beat VoIP?

One way for the telcos to beat back free or cheap Voice over IP services (VoIP) is to get away from their sole focus on the phone and move to a feature-rich, Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) platform, complete with local directory, community and news services.

Amdocs, a leading telco integrator, certainly sees things this way. Amdocs Marketing Director Eitan Gelbaum said the key to winning the war with VoIP will be to transfrom the television into the family’s communications headquarters. He noted that 150 telcos worldwide have indicated that they’ll move to an IPTV platform within two or three years.