According to the media site, Patch’s president Warren Webster told them the company plans to add 400 new hyperlocal sites to its network of 100 so far, doubling its current advertised state coverage.
Webster says that Patch is selecting towns to expand to based in part on a 59-variable algorithm that takes into account factors like the average household income of a town, how often citizens vote, and how the local public high school ranks; the company is then talking to local residents to ensure that targeted areas have other less quantifiable characteristics like a “vibrant business community” and “walkable Main Street”. Patch hires one professional reporter to cover each community; each “cluster” of sites also has an ad manager who is the “feet in the street” selling ads.
The job would be hard enough if Kersey only had to face the regular challenges of any starting journalist – building sources and writing with authority, for starters. But he’s also got to hire freelancers, edit copy, take pictures, record video, Tweet out news flashes and build a profile for what remains an almost unknown brand.
There’s always too much to do. And it will only pay off if the one area of the operation Kersey can’t control, advertising, can make inroads like no other operator has been able to in the much-hyped hyperlocal news space.
“Patch.com asks for $15 for every 1,000 viewers it brings to one form of online ad that businesses create themselves.” Can this revenue model work and should editors like Kersey have more of a role in the commercial side of the hyperlocal site?
Patch.org will partner with community foundations and other organisations to launch Patch sites and bring objective local news and information to communities and neighborhoods around the world that lack adequate news media and online local information resources.
The Patch.org sites will employ a local journalist to produce original news and content, and aggregate material and information created by the community. Any revenue earned by the sites will be invested back into the community they serve, a press release says.
An internal memo seen by Business Insider detailing the plans underlines AOL’s intention to aggressively expand in the local space, something the company describes as “one of the most promising ‘white spaces’ on the internet”.
Tim Armstrong, Google advertising executive, is using his private investment company, Polar Capital Group, to back Patch – a community news organisation, which also boasts CUNY professor and media blogger Jeff Jarvis on its editorial board.