Obviously this would mean lots of page views and a bona fide local ad network. The questions that arise, however, include:
- Can they generate sufficient quality to achieve sustained readership and “brand” status?
- What’s the ad model? It’s geotargeting for nationals and partnerships with local channels for SMBs
- Will they pick the right partners and have the right content mix to create a compelling product?
A recent MediaWeek piece celebrates an existing version of this plan in Examiner.com:
Consider startup Examiner.com, led by former AOL Digital Cities exec Rick Blair. The company has tapped a staggering 29,000 writers, including former reporters, bloggers and passionate locals, in 240 U.S. cities. Blair says that Examiner.com now reaches 18 million unique users. But the majority of its writers are part-timers. “We tell people, ‘Don’t quit your day job,’” says Blair.
Most of the content flowing through Examiner.com (by my assessment) is crap content, however. It’s largely aimed at generating low-cost page views for ads — a variation on arbitrage.
Yet if it’s all about page views and “shelf space” (SEO) for AOL and not about quality the effort will certainly fail.