Tag Archives: Examiner.com

CBS Goes Deeper with Local Content Via Examiner.com Deal

CBS plans to build deeper local online content by commissioning specific local topics for articles from thousands of writers at Examiner.com. Both parties were mum about whether there is revenue sharing involved, but did note that writers will receive a different payment plan than they receive on Examiner.com.

Leonard Brody, president of Clarity Digital, which is Examiner’s parent company, told BIA/Kelsey that the economics of the deal will make it profitable for both companies. Examiner has been approached by many media companies to lend its editorial resources. While such loaners of editorial resources aren’t likely to become a dominant revenue stream, “you may see us do a few more of these,” he says. CBS, for its part, is free to also work with other content aggregators and developers.

CBS brings to the table a network of 15+ city sites, such as CBS Denver, CBS Los Angeles, etc. Some sites have had customized Examiner.com content since December 5. “It is a great showcase, and brings great reach for content. It also provides strong credibility via the CBS brand,” says Brody.

While Examiner’s content for CBS will have some branding elements on it, the intent is not to bring people to Examiner.com, Brody emphasizes. It is CBS’ audience. CBS Local Media President Ezra Kucharz adds that the deal with Examiner is “a great way to augment our great content in local markets.”

Helium Provides ‘Refereed’ Content for Local Media

Everyone is fighting for better, more cost-efficient way of producing content for Websites. But is the so-called “content mill,” search optimized approach of a Demand Media, Associated Content or Examiner.com the only way to achieve this?

Whether you agree or disagree with the characterization of these companies (we largely disagree), alternatives are out there. One alternative is presented by Helium, a 29 person, Boston-based firm that brings in text articles from 160,000 writers and editors; filters it via peer review to let the best voices rise to the top; and allows media partners to generally choose from multiple entries for the best fit.

Helium was founded in October 2006 and has received $16 million in Series A funding. Most interestingly to us, it is also 20 percent owned by mega publisher RR Donnelly. Indeed, RRD, with 1,200 sales reps, is its principal reseller to local media clients including TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, Yellow Pages and Web pure plays.
Using Helium, media partners can personalize the content for their own purpose.

One TV company we recently talked with said it liked Helium’s approach more than the others because it had confidence in the quality of the articles because they are refereed, and the company is able to let local reporters add their own touch to pieces that run on its websites. It isn’t so much about using outside content as “letting the company’s talent do more,” it said.

This company would be among Helium’s pay-by-the-article customers. The cost can range anywhere from $30-$50 for general interest content, to up to $1,000 for a high end medical specialty piece. There are also monthly plans. The company’s content is also distributed on its own ad-supported website, which receives nine million page views per month, growing five to seven percent month.

CEO Mark Ranali tells us that writers are paid on an algorithm based on a portion of ad revenues. The payment scheme is similar to that of Demand Media, Examiner.com or Associated Content. “Many, many writers receive from $5,000 to $10,000 a year,” he says — enough to be a good source of supplemental income. But that also does not differentiate the company. The difference, he contends, is that the content may be “reviewed better than professionally written material.”

“We are not oblivious to what the search engines are doing,” says Ranali. “You want to be on Google at the end of the day.“ And the other content creators may have been perfectly optimized for Google. But instead of producing articles specifically to top the search engine, Helium is bent on producing the best article. “That’s perfectly aligned with Google,” which really just wants to highlight the best content, he says.

Praized Media Rolls out ‘Needium’ for Social-Based Leads

Praized Media, recognizing that social-based media has largely moved from the blogosphere to social media sites during the past two years, has now rolled out “Needium,” a new semantic search site that crawls Facebook and Twitter for specific leads.

“A lot of the conversation in blogs now occurs on Twitter and Facebook,” says co-founder Sebastian Provencher. Using social micro blog sites — the “statusphere” — is “so much easier than blogging,” he says. Provencher adds that the new move is not a 180 degree change for the company has been taking half steps towards a Needium-like product since its launch, for instance, adding real time search.

Needium will specifically offer consumers an outlet to search for explicit things like services and restaurants, or implicit things (“what’s fun in Boston?”). It also gives merchants the ability to respond with offers after their names are “surfaced.”
Ten-to-20 categories are initially being launched, ranging from obvious travel-related categories to smaller ones, such as jewelers. A consumer might ask where to fix a broken watch, says Provencher.

Praized, a seven person outfit based in Montreal, says it will continue to support its original blogs-based “social media stack”for enterprise clients such as YPG and Examiner.com. In addition to supporting licensees, it will also eventually develop a destination site of its own.

Marketplaces 2010: Content Creators See Enhanced Ad Value

Content creators that seek to optimize millions of pieces of content for contextual vertical advertising were on full display at Marketplaces 2010 today in San Diego.

Associated Content
President and Founder Luke Beatty noted that his company was “the first crowd- sourced media platform” and now attracts 16 million unique visitors. Research done for the company shows that users were 125 percent more likely to discuss information that they found on Associated Content with others.

They also were 10% percent more likely to carry out additional research; 80 percent more likely to purchase a product or service from advertisers; 53 percent more likely to have people turn to them for advice or opinions; 43 percent more likely to have influence over friends and family; 25 percent more likely to be trendsetters.

Beatty also noted that 17 percent of AC’s content is local oriented. “It is all about fragmented content,” he said. ”Short tail news content don’t monetize on web content. Long tail rules. Local is better being created by the social web.

Examiner.com CEO Rick Blair said his company is even more focused on local. Blair spelled out a sponsorship model that allows advertisers to sponsor specific writers, or “examiners.” Rates range from $29 to $399. Advertising also accompanies 100,000 to 125,000 emails sent out to people who subscribe to specific examiners.

Perfect Market CRO Rob Barrett noted that his new company, which recently partnered with Tribune Co., has made it easier to monetize vertical content, which is earning $9 RPM, as opposed to 85 cents RPM earned from article pages gotten via search. Hard news stories don’t typically monetize very well.

We see which keywords have what CPM, he says. The Toyota recall has been a very effective keyword, for instance.

Examiner.com Nears 30,000 Local Contributors

Examiner.com, the Philip Anschutz-backed site that calls itself “the insider source for everything local,” says it is likely to pass 30,000 active contributors, or “Examiners,” within days, and 85,000 by 2011. The current tally includes 1,234 active contributors in LA, 1,189 active contributors in New York , 921 in Chicago, 901 in San Francisco, 900 in Denver and 804 in Washington DC.

All 240 major markets are expected to surpass 1,000 Examiners by 3Q 2010. The site also has 500 Examiners in Canada, plus a major network of user generated content coming from its NowPublic site.

Examiner.com, which is largely search driven, differentiates itself from other content aggregators such as Demand Media and Associated Content by its local focus. It pays its Examiners based on a formula that includes page views and other factors. While some Examiners make little more than coffee money, Examiners that hit on a major story can receive hundreds of dollars per article.

CEO Rick Blair said in a statement that “we have the reach, and now we are working on the depth.

Former AOL Digital City vet Blair is a featured speaker at Marketplaces 2010, which takes place in San Diego March 22-24.

Examiner.com’s Makeover: Deep Focus on Local/Vertical

Does it make any sense to build a national chain of city sites by hiring local editors, one by one? The answer is a resolute “no” according to Examiner.com CEO Rick Blair, who said he’d been there and done that when he was a top exec at AOL Digital City.

Blair came on board to run the Denver-based company in April 2008. Working with owner Philip Anschutz, the mogul who had prior successes with AEG Live and Qwest Communications, Blair and a team that largely consists of former AOL Execs have scrapped a model that had created local offices in five markets.

The company’s currently structured around 25 vertical channels, with channel managers based in Denver. They are served by thousands of “Examiners” writing for 200+ local editions. Each Examiner is fully vetted and signed up to write about various micro subjects (i.e. “Denver Skiing,” “San Diego Alternative Health,” etc.)

The company has 23,000 Examiners writing for it now, and expects 26,000 by year-end. They account for 90 percent of the company’s content, with links to local sites accounting for the rest . More than 13.9 million unique visitors currently come to the site, making it the number five U.S. news site, per ComScore.

Each Examiner’s pay is based on a number of variables (page views, unique visitors, session length, return visits and frequency of posts). It is a model that is not dissimilar to other content developers, such as Associated Content, Demand Media and About.com. The difference is that Examiner.com is still mostly rooted in local reporting.

Looking forward, Blair says the company will focus on building up stickiness with the introduction of community social features. The site is currently reliant on SEO. It is also poised to begin monetizing its content via sponsorship models. One ski resort, for instance, has sponsored seven of the area’s 14 Examiners. The company is set to aggressively develop accounts around the U.S., Canada and several international markets via telemarketing efforts.

A full report is available for clients of the BIA/Kelsey Marketplaces program.