Google Chooses Its Fiber-Networked City Of The Future: Kansas City

YES! Google will build an ultra high-speed broadband network in Kansas City, Kansas. According to their FAQs, construction will begin at the end of 2011 and service may be available to some residents as early as the first quarter of 2012.

They received applications from 1,100 communities across the US, including a number of nominations from our own neighborhoods in KC.

FCC: Local or community news second most common type of activity online

The FCC recently conducted a survey called “Broadband Adoption and Use in America” that found getting local or community news was the second most common type of activity online, just behind buying a product. Using a social networking site was fourth. (See chart below.)

Of course, I’m happy to see that “local or community” news is listed second but it’s hard to believe that using a social networking site is fourth given that Facebook now has over 350 million users and is listed as the second or third most visited site on the Internet. This seems to highlight the problem with human reported surveys versus computer counted statistics.

As a measure of online activity for local and community news though, this survey may be the best data we have given the fragmentation of local publishers, which makes it difficult to measure this type of activity on a national level.

Google Fiber for Communities

UPDATE: In an effort to bring Google Fiber to Topeka, KS, the city’s mayor signed a proclamation that for the rest of the month, Topeka will be known as Google, KS.

Here’s your chance to get “ultra-high speed” Internet access for your community.

Google is planning to offer Internet access at speeds of over 1 gigabit per second – about 100 times faster than most Americans receive today. They are looking for interested communities that want to take part in their experiment and expect to extend the service to at least 50,000 homes and maybe as many as 500,000 homes.

To nominate your community, go here and click “Get Involved”.

An overview video is below.

Can You Make Money With Local News?

MediaShift Idea Lab posted a great article by David Sasaki last week titled: Can the Knight Legacy Lead to Sustainability? David’s final thought/question in the piece was this:

But is it Sustainable?

The Knight Foundation is single-handedly making citizen media both more serious and more respected by giving financial support to some of the field’s most innovative thinkers.

But is this a sustainable model for the transformation of media? What happens when the News Challenge’s five-year funding period concludes?

All of the News Challenge grantee projects are impressive, innovative, and important, but not a single one is turning a profit, nor do they seem poised to any time soon.

There is a fundamental truth that we are fast approaching — all media should be free. This includes, news, entertainment, public records, etc. Just look at what’s happening in the music industry. The signs are all over the wall…

Subsequently, this belief in freeing the information is driving the traditional news industry into the ground. Controlling the information has always been the key (I think of the classic Redford movie, Sneakers). But the old ways of controlling and distributing the news are falling apart.

The info on the web is so disseminated, that I can get news from pretty much anywhere… so what drives me to get it from any place in particular? At risk of sounding like the corporate-driven, cube-infested, dilbertesque workplace that spawned me — it’s the value-adds.

If I can get news any time, any way, and from any location I want AND (and, folks, that’s a big “and”) also access services (from local businesses) that make my day-to-day life easier, why would I go anywhere else?

The key here is relevance and location. News that matters to me, services that help me around the house, and an online network that makes my life easier right where I live in the real world — these are the exact things that just recently were so explicitly illustrated by Newspaper Next’s news report from the American Press Institute. It was best stated as such:

“The place I go to be part of the fabric of life here [where I live].”

eNeighbors wants to help us get there. The icing on the cake is, yes, we are profitable, and our plan is to continue to be so in greater proportions. That is exactly why we have applied to the Knight News Challenge. We believe our goals and community-oriented nature are in perfect alignment with the Knight Foundation’s vision.

So, to answer David’s question, eNeighbors hopes to break that non-profitablility mold and help lead the way for the next level of online journalism and real-world community.

eNeighbors Stats: 12/16 – 01/15

eNeighbors closed out the year with some great progress. We signed up 6 new neighborhoods in the last couple months of 2007. Subsequently, our traffic has increased and is continuing to climb every month. So, here’s to a great year in 2008. Happy New Year everyone!

Traffic data:

94,806 page views
10,469 visits
5 minutes average visit duration

32 neighborhoods online. We have neighborhoods in Kansas, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, California, Texas and Arizona.

3,935 registered users at 3,705 unique addresses.

With 11,137 potential addresses in the neighborhoods that have signed up so far, we are at 33% adoption rate for our entire resident base.

The newsletter adoption rate is at 99% of our registered user base with only 40 residents (out of 3,935) opting out of receiving the email newsletter.

Total user-generated content since launch (about 9 months):

News posts: 869
Events: 379
Groups: 108
Classifieds: 618

Also, here’s the support stats for 2007. We received and replied to a total of 1,427 support requests from 3/1/2007 to 1/16/2008.

Support Requests Breakdown:
929 PIN requests
129 new resident requests (add a new neighbor)
369 general support requests

Help us continue to grow. Tell your friends about eNeighbors. And get your neighborhood signed up too.

Short End of the Ad Stick

My take on Eric Picard’s article on local advertising over on ClickZ:

1. Display advertising (i.e., print ads) in the local newspaper is still the best ad/marketing vehicle for a small business to reach its audience.

Article quote:

I’m fairly certain the numbers used by J.P. Morgan’s analysts include classified ad revenue. Classifieds have been decimated in local ad spend, but display ads in local newspapers are probably just as strong as they have ever been, despite shrinking circulation. This is mainly because there are no alternatives for local businesses, including local affiliates of national brands (e.g., local auto dealers, quick-service restaurant franchises, national retailer locations, etc.), to reach their local audiences. Much of this has to do with creative production and the lack of online inventory that can be targeted locally.

2. Online audience targeting is still not good enough for small businesses to shift their ad dollars online.

Article quote:

Local newspaper ad spend on display ads is very unlikely to move online for the next few years. The reason is similar to why television didn’t drop for some time despite shrinking audiences. There just isn’t an alternative to reach the target audience that a small local business, even a local affiliate of a national brand, can take advantage of.

3. Still no infrastructure for small businesses to get “true” local service positioning.

Article quote:

Local search has mainly solidified around mapping, which is great at taking advantage of people searching for a product in a local area but not for driving awareness of a sale or trying to create demand. And without a sales force and creative production resources to serve the local markets, it’s highly unlikely that much of the local inventory available within the online space will ever get sold to local businesses. The infrastructure is really set up for supporting national advertisers with localized creative.


Greg Sterling also comments.

How’s Your Inbox, Lately?

Some interesting data over on eMarketer today talking about e-mail advertising and the expected growth in spending from $1.2 billion in 2007 to $2 billion in 2012. Additionally, JupiterResearch indicates that about one fourth of all email is now opt-in.

What I find interesting is some of the feedback from users about why they decide to no longer opt in to emails from certain companies. One of the primary reasons was that the content was no longer relevant. Is there an echo in here?

This is great news for us here at eNeighbors since the primary traffic driver of our service is the automated e-mail newsletters of weekly content from your neighborhood site (it’s like Facebook’s news feed without all the crap).

The content in these newsletters can’t be more relevant since it’s an aggregated conversation from your neighbors about things that are happening literally on your street.

We recognize that while most people want to stay informed about their local happenings (especially in their own neighborhood) there are only so many hours in the day. We’ve seen that the weekly recap of info is a great way to keep up on what’s going on. And that’s why we are working on some new features and enhancements to the eNewsletters. Stay tuned.