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The downward slide of local government advertising spend

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It’s only one council (Manchester) but the direction of travel is clear.

Snapshot of advertising spend from a council Many Eyes

Figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show the extent of the drop in council spending on advertising in newspapers over the past three years.

The data shows;

* Trinity Mirror newspapers (MEN and associated weeklies) saw a less steep drop in revenue than the national press and took the lion’s share of the spend with £581,965.81 in 2009/10.

* Just two areas of advertising saw increased budgets over the period – outdoor advertising (billboards etc.) almost doubled from £65,096.04 in 2007/8 to £128, 427.33 in 2009/10 and digital advertising got a budget of £4,655 in the last year after previously having none.

* Online only recruitment advertising dropped to zero in 2009/10.

The full data set for this visualisation of advertising spend in £ is available here.

The figures were obtained by campaigner Zahid Hussain who is seeking to establish how decisions on advertising are made by the council. He has since submitted a further request for information .

Written by sarahhartley

May 3rd, 2011 at 8:21 am

10 Characteristics of hyperlocal


What, if anything, the term ‘hyperlocal’ now means is something that keeps coming up in conversations I have and it strikes me that it’s no longer necessarily defined by a tight geographical area, but instead seems to have evolved to describe more of an attitude than a place.

Often it’s the subject matter that could be termed ‘hyperlocal’ (eg. littering reports) or a story treatment (eg. data maps) but even sites which cover large geographical areas (eg. the city blogs which I look after for Guardian Local) are referred to as ‘hyperlocal’. Can these things be considered ‘hyperlocal in nature, even if that’s not true of their scale or scope?

I’ve been thinking about what it is that links them, what’s meant when we use the shorthand ‘hyperlocal’ and identified the following ten characteristics. Not all sites display all these characteristics and, before the print lobby gets over excited, yes of course a lot of these characteristics are present in local newspapers as well.

I’m quite sure there’s other things I haven’t clocked, so please do let me know any more that should be included.

Plus, is it time to find a term which would better describe what we’ve come to mean or do you think ‘hyperlocal’ is well used enough to keep? Please do let me know in the comments below.

  1. Participation from the author. To my mind, this is the biggest single hyperlocal attitude characteristic – the blogger, writer, journalist or whoever it is running the site participates in activities in the community. Includes activity on, and offline.
  2. Opinion blended with facts. Can sometimes be related to point one but generally a less distinctive, more blurry line of difference between what is reported and what is opinion is commonplace. The author’s personal take on an issue can be more pronounced than would be expected in a piece of traditional news journalism.
  3. Participation from the community. Whether it’s commenting, submitted material such as pictures and tips or crowdsourced information, hyperlocal means involving others in its production.
  4. Small is big. When it comes to news values, the agenda can be distinctly different to that of a traditional news outlet because scale is not important, impact is.
  5. Medium agnostic. Use of different platforms is a very common characteristic with Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Audioboo etc. being deployed as and when required.
  6. Obsessiveness. I mean this in a good way! Hyperlocal-ers seem more likely to stick with a story, update it’s every change and so take proper advantage of having no restrictions on space that blogs provide. Is this the hyper in hyperlocal?
  7. Independence. The publishers of these sites tend to pride themselves on being independent and see not being answerable to a mainstream organisation meaning they’re able to be more responsive to their community.
  8. Link lovers. I’ve struggled to find any hyperlocal sites that aren’t generous in their linking policy and why wouldn’t they be? Linking out is a natural state of affairs for bloggers who don’t pretend they are omnipresent when resources don’t allow.
  9. Passion. Most of these sites were set up as labours of love – and it shows. That sort of (more often than not unpaid) enthusiasm is very attractive to users who’re savvy at spotting disinterest or ulterior motives.
  10. Lack of money. Sorry to end the list on this but… doesn’t seem the revenue question has been fully answered yet, or if it has, I’ve not spotted it and would love to hear from the person that has.

Written by sarahhartley

August 25th, 2010 at 8:51 am

#smc_mcr Five take-outs from last night’s Social Media Cafe

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The latest Social Media Cafe turned out to be a feast of digital know-how. Splitting the event into an unconference style happening resulted in sessions with five top speakers. There was a lot learned and an awful lot shared.
I treated it as a bit of a smorgasbord and grazed around all the sessions. These are my personal picks but I shall also do a blog round-up of other’s posts just as soon as the bleary eyes have cleared and everyone else has posted. (Please feel free to drop me a link either via the comments or through the contacts page of this blog).
1. Consider ad positions on blogs carefully. A known successful formula is to think of the “hot spots” on the page where people’s yes dwell as being an “F” shape. (from Craig McGinty’s talk).
2. It’s not all fun and games. Tim Difford’s session considered how social media poses a lot of challenges for organisations. Could employees’ social media commitments turn into the new “coat left on the chair” as workers feel pressured to participate?
3. Geo-location technologies are developing at a rapid pace – in fact Julian Tait’s talk on the topic was so fast-moving one participant reported that it blew their mind!
4. One of Sam Easterby-Smith’s mash ups to create this gigometer service has led to a drug company employee developing one which tracks the cheapest available source of pharmaceuticals. A considerable achievement of collaboration from blogger to business!
5. Here in Manchester we do it differently and, of course, better. While London and Birmingham social media cafe’s take place in office hours over cups of tea, our event rocks!
Finally, I captured some rough and ready Qiks from every one of the sessions. Check out the clips here to get a flavour but remember – if you want the full experience, you need to join us in the real. Details at the official wiki.

Written by sarahhartley

January 15th, 2009 at 8:42 am

How to get ahead with advertisers – erm..perhaps not!


I’ve seen many strategies to woo advertisers over the years but this novel insult-them-and-they-will-come approach is a new one to me!

Posted here thanks to new Manchester start-up Hive which sent this flyer out earlier this afternoon. (While naked too if the last sentence is to be believed, they really know how to do things differently).

Good luck guys! I look forward to seeing how many “shitty ugly ads” result.

“So what’s the crack? When is this magazine going to print? What’s taking us so long?

Well, have a guess… (as if you didn’t already know). As with many magazines our sole means of funding is advertising revenue, but with current financial climate the way it is (particularly for the small local businesses that we have been targeting) the only advertising contracts we’ve managed to draw up to date have been verbal contracts of the “maybe later” variety. (This from over 400 emails and around 60 face-to-face meetings!!!)

Two things we wanted for Hive to separate it from all the other generic Manchester magazines were a massive level of distribution, expensive flashy printing techniques and NO PROPERTY ADVERTS. These were completely non-negotiable terms which had to be adhered to come rain or shine. Well, rain or shine we were prepared for. What we weren’t prepared for was clouds of eggy fart pissing big fat ambition killing turds down on us.

It’s time to face reality and realise that, for now at least, Hive magazine is going to have to drop all it’s grandiose plans and play the hand it’s been dealt. Unfortunately this means a significantly lower print run, less aesthetic acrobatics and (worst of all) having to go crawling back to the property agencies with our tail between our legs asking for their stupid ugly adverts.

As shitty as this is we’ve had too much interest in this project to admit defeat. And the quality of some of the articles that have been submitted to us have been so good it probably won’t even matter what adverts they’re sat next to, people should still enjoy the magazine regardless. In short, your articles WILL be used, they ARE going to print and it will be SOON. Please bare with us.”

Written by sarahhartley

January 10th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Journalism,Life

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Royal Marines deploy Bluetooth Bond


The Royal Marines are targeting Bond fans using Bluetooth technology in the first mobile advertising campaign of its kind.

According to a posting at Creativematch, the campaign will be broadcast before and after the latest Bond film Quantum of Solace in 120 cinemas.

The campaign is the brainchild of full service digital agency twentysix, winners of an Interactive Marketing and Advertising award for recruitment work for the Royal Marines.

Is this the start of a new form of advertising delivery?

My only experience of Bluetooth advertising to date is Manchester Airport’s shopping offers. I’d be interested to hear of any others.

Written by sarahhartley

November 16th, 2008 at 11:55 am

Notes from DEN April 29; Making money

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This post is some brief notes and thoughts from yesterday’s Digital Editor’s Networkget together at UCLAN, Preston.

At this new blog, I’m doing things a little differently from my norm and putting into practice some of the lessons I’ve learned and promoted over the years. Publishing some notes and thoughts in this way may lead to a more formal article at some point – may not. There may be themes I return to – may not. What happens to it next could be down to the responses but the process of what happens (if anything) will all be trackable.

OK first up on yesterday’s meeting. Where were the girls?
Just myself and my colleague Alison White from the Reading Evening Post (and I invited and drove her there!). Hardly representative of the industry but not that unusual at this meeting. The DEN Facebook group shows that almost a third (22) of the 70 members are women. Yes some are abroad and some are not digital editors, but a third would seem to be a more representative number in my experience of the industry so what’s going on here? The issues not of interest? No time? Unable to get away from work? Love to hear.

The theme of yesterday’s meeting was money making. The session was “off the record” so I’m restricting these notes to what’s already in the public domain although I’d just add that nothing commercially sensitive actually arose.

First up my colleague Peter Boler who talked through the MEN Mediacommercial startegy by running through all the online formats we offer online – affiliates, display, MPU, video pre-roll and classified.

Secondly Rick Waghorn who left a newspaper job and set up The speech was mostly the one given at the Jeecamp event in Birminghamlast month. I had the same response to it this month as last. While Rick is probably a good example of a journalist who has become a brand that people trust and follow (re-occurring theme at the moment), the revenue model is based on a series of local relationships and hand-holding of advertisers. While this may work for those small traders who remain nervous about digital, what will happen when they wise up and find ebay? 

Andy Dickinson gave us a talk about video, while being filmed for a video. He mentioned a great case study which I’m eager to find the source of. A media company which publishes all its activity online as an internal resource, in the place of wire feeds etc. Products within the organisation take what they will of it and then publish their re-packaged versions of the content online. Then any journalist that adds value further with links, new interviews, videos etc. gets a byline for that further activity and it is published online again. Goes into an area I’m researching creation V curation and seems the type of workflow you might come up with if you started out as a media group without print production background. He also mentioned this report on video;

Finally, a Hitwise presentation. Fairly standard stuff showing the type of statistical information and marketing assistance the company offers. Interestingly showed that users often put the question “How do I place an advert in (insert your newspaper tittle)” into Google. Well they would wouldn’t they? Trouble is that many newspapers don’t have an information page to answer that most basic of customer queries. Any journalists reading this, try it with your newspaper title – I’ve done a few and the results aren’t pleasing.

I also did this with the MEN. Using the well-accepted abbreviation “MEN” I got this as the top search result; using the “Manchester Evening News” I got this slightly better (but still out-of-date) result;

What an obvious starting point for money-making - think like a customer.

I know the first thing I’ll be doing when I get into work this morning. And so do you.

Written by sarahhartley

April 30th, 2008 at 7:07 am