Ten years too late

(Last Updated On: July 29, 2009)

Yahoo! launched its new front page about a week ago.  It’s clean, it integrates social media, and it offers local news on the front page. This is a great deal for local print media; unfortunately, it is 10 years too late.

Yahoo has enough issues of its own. They have made a lot of bad moves over the last few years. But, the addition of local news as part of the front page news stream is something I believe viewers will appreciate. It should have been there a long time ago.

Local news and advertising have become a focus again over the last few years. Google finally jumped into the local news game in February 2008.  Although I’m sure it’s easily accessible, I don’t believe I’ve actually looked at their  news offerings. But, it has been hard to miss their aggressive efforts to display local searches in the last year.

In the social media realm, Facebook has been very successful with its local focus,  earning a majority of its revenue from local advertising.

Yahoo has been working on the process of developing local news for years.  They started testing as early as 2004 with limited sources.  In 2006 they softly launched their local news and have continued to develop more sources since then. But the main focus has been national news. This is what has finally changed.

I’m excited to see the connections on Yahoo. Especially since I’ve worked at a few of the smaller daily newspapers that the Yahoo aggregator is now sourcing. It should be a real traffic driver for local media and added support for generating loyal yahoo.com viewers.

This alliance and prominent display of smaller local newspapers should have happened years ago when both Yahoo and the local print media had some strength left in them.   Local news aggregation is the starting point in a long process.  At this point I have to ask: Do Yahoo and local print have enough time to develop the relationship?  Is it too late to forge this new alliance toward new levels of necessary innovation and success?

I don’t know how this recent relationship developed. I do know that local newsprint media would have never bought into this idea a decade ago. Newspapers would have considered it a loss to share local content. If Yahoo had streamed local feeds to their front page,  the papers would have sued rather than celebrate the additional traffic directed to their Web sites.

Newspapers have traditionally devalued the Web.  They gave away advertising space for pennies if advertisers chose their medium of delivery.  The world continued to change and newsprint had no realistic plan.

I checked the unique visitors to the Web sites of the newspapers mentioned above.  They received two to three times the Web traffic each month compared to their print circulation.  Why can’t they monetize that?

Now that local media seem to have their heads out of the sand, can they make more deals with traffic-driving Web sites? Will they take advantage of the new traffic coming from Yahoo? Can sites such as Yahoo build more quality relationships with local media that would build loyalty?

Does anyone care anymore?


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