Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The New Video News Network !

I have been writing a lot about the future of news and where it will take us.....will it be all video, streams of media, all mobile, or will the newspaper somehow survive.  Nobody knows for certain, but one could take a very calculated guess and point towards video / mobile.  I had also talked about a new type of news site that we were building to incorporate into as well as have it stand on its own......VNN ( Video News Network).  

VNN is going to be a video network (much like YouTube), but it is focused on local news and local happenings.  Regular people will be able to upload video in real time to the network as the actual news is happening.  Then our users can view and browse this content through many categories including down the the zip code.  VNN will eventually have "video editors" who can do 3 essential things.....curate the news, comment on the news and create social interaction with viewers as they respond to the news. . We will also have a strict admin control over the site so that it doesn't turn into a YouTube with many off topic videos and keep it limited to what is important to the site and its users.

VNN will become that place for local news stations to upload their daily broadcasts, amateur journalist to upload their findings and breaking stories via video, and also a perfect place for any vlogger !  Since we are incorporated into YouTube itself (meaning our VNN videos get the YouTube video SEO treatment) we become the best choice for these types of users.

We are in the beginning stages of VNN and will hopefully grow into our own over this coming year.  I invite you to check out the BETA site and let us know what you think in the comments.

BETA site - VNN

Your OurTown Superhero,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Future of News

News is everywhere and on every device (computer / tablet / phone / TV / etc.) which lets the everyday person have access to news at anytime.  So many companies are trying to take advantage of this fact and present you with better news, and a better way to view that news.  This causes the everyday person to choose from a gazillion different news readers / sites / shows, while really only looking at a few different sources.  Yes, there are a TON of news sources, but really most people have their favorites and usually just stick to them.  That is why the way it is presented (news reader) is becoming one of the most important factors in news.  News readers are also helping people branch out into different news sources once they find a reader that they love (like Flipboard).

So there is one thing I can say for sure - there will be a ton of news to read / watch in the future, the big question is how will you view this news?  What device will you use?  What type of reader will you use?  What news sources will be the best?  How will it all come together for you?  Nobody really knows any of these answers (even though many would love to guess and make that guess fact), but I would like to take my guess at the topic!

I believe we are in an information now type of online society where people what to know whats going on right now and wants to then discuss that with their peers.  With everything today being at your finger tips I don't blame anyone for wanting to be in the know all the the time.  So whatever news reader and device wins out - it is going to have to be mobile and constantly pushing you content.  My guess would have to be the tablet, and a news app that is able to connect you to the right news sources.  There are many apps that already do this for singular news sources and also for multiple news sources, but I think it will need to go further than just that in the future.

I believe the future will be a news app that constantly pushes you the news that you have picked via source and topic.  I also think that app will be connected socially allow for article/ video sharing and group reading / watching.  I don't think we are too far off from this becoming reality, but there is much that needs to be done for this to happen and to become the norm in reading and watching news.

And until this happens I guess I will be stuck using my different apps / viewing different websites / and watching multiple shows !

Your OurTown Superhero,


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Video News ?!?

Reading and being able to read is one of the most important skills in life, yet many people will do anything not to read!  More and more people will view a video over reading an why don't we give the people want they want?  Well we have to an extent.......

Pinterest, YouTube,  Flickr, and so on are becoming more and more popular with some of the highest ratings when it comes to "minutes spent on site per user"!  Almost every major news site on the web has it's own video section and more and more video sites pop up everyday. Online video, and mobile video (phone and tablet) are way up and it seems like they are posed to continue up on this trend.  Google is now indexing more video than text, and YouTube has become the second biggest search why has nobody created a completely visual news site yet?

I understand the stigma of someone saying they would rather watch than read, but this is online want the information fast and quick!  People today don't have time to sit around and read article after article of news, but they do have time to watch short clips that gives them breaking news, from there they can dig further into the stories that interest them.  I am not saying that we should get rid of articles and stories all together, but I think online publishers should start to focus more and more on visual media (images and video).

I know that online video is still new to people, but nothing is more popular than online video (well besides from games).  This is the future of online news.....and I would rather see this sooner than later!

Your OurTown Superhero,


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who can make Hyper-Local News work?

I have looked at many hyper-local news networks over the past few years and many of them had some of the same qualities and features.....but none of them really succeeded in their plan to take over the online hyper-local news space.  A lot of them either went out of business, re-vamped their idea, or sold the site to another hyper-local network.  There are some like which are still operating, but have such a high operational cost that they lose millions each month!  So far nobody has the right answer, and hopefully that changes in 2012.

If the answer isn't found in 2012 it won't be for a lack of trying!  So many people are trying to build the right network and there are so many existing companies re-vamping their business model that I predict an online local news overload in 2012.  But the question still remands on what is the right formula on creating a huge hyper-local news network that is profitably.   I won't clam to know the formula, but I can tell you a few problems or issues that will need to be answered to get it done:

1) Local Ad Revenue

Many hyper-local sites are basing most of their revenue off of the sales of local advertisements and a lot of them are expecting way too much money and going about it all wrong!  The first mistake I see on most of these sites is when they divide up the areas, they do not take into account what a normal sales area would cover.  They have the areas split up into "hyper-local" news areas and then when they try to obtain local advertisements they usually cover too small of an area and do not reach enough people to satisfy the local business owner.

Another huge mistake is they predict too much money out of the sale of local advertisements.  They don't take into account that when selling on such a local level that the ad prices go way down compared to a regional ad.  So they do not set up the right budget per town or area within the network causing them to lose money even though they might be making good progress. 

Some how the local ad revenue model has to be figured out and fast or none of these sites will be turning a profit anytime soon.

2) The Hyper-Local Network Staff

This is a huge issue with many of the hyper-local new sites and networks....who runs the sites, how do we pay them, and how do we find them!  It is really important to get the right people writing the stories and covering the local events, but how to you find them?  Also, once you have found the right type of people what is your model for paying them (keeping in mind how much you can have as overhead cost compared to what you hope to make out of each site)?  These are really important questions because you can keep your cost down, but you might not find the right people.  But then if you find the right people and they cost too much your site loses money no matter how good the content.

Then comes the question of once you have your writers, local editors, site editors, etc. who will sell the local advertising or national advertising?  Some have tried to have the local editor sell the advertising or even  be in charge of getting leads and neither have worked out.  Some have tried have a sales team based in other cites to call into the local communities to obtain advertising and they hasn't worked either.

Once you figure out what the correct staff is and the correct cost of the staff in comparison to the income of a site you will finally have the winning combination.

I think that once those two main issues are truly solved then someone is going to have a real shot at creating a hyper-local news network that will work and be profitability.  Until this happens you will see many hyper local news sites appear and disappear overtime along with many underwhelming sites.  I know OurTown is working in a new "formula" this year to try and figure out these issues, but it is going to be interesting to see who wins this race!

Your OurTown Superhero,