Up your street: The rise of hyperlocal media
In what is the first-ever survey of its kind in the UK, research from the UK's innovation foundation, Nesta, has found that in the past two years there has been an increase in demand from those who access very local content (termed hyperlocal content) as they adopt smartphones and tablets, such as iPads.
The research highlights many positive signs for hyperlocal media in the UK, with more people accessing services the more connected they are. For example, nearly a third (29 per cent) of those who access hyperlocal media services on their smartphone do so on a daily basis.
However, the potential for charging for hyperlocal media appears challenging. When asked, current audiences have said that paying for hyperlocal media would put them off accessing it. This highlights that generating revenue to cover the costs of content production remains the key issue for hyperlocal publishers.
The research also highlights the importance of search engines. Fifty-six per cent of users accessed hyperlocal media via search, which suggests that content producers need to optimise their find-ability with search engines. The research suggests geo-tagging of content by publishers to make it easier to find.
In addition, the research points to some key hyperlocal content genres. The most popular reason for audiences to consume hyperlocal media was local weather (50 per cent), with timely news content (41 per cent) and local entertainment (32 per cent) following closely behind.
The research is part of Nesta's Destination Local programme to identify the business models, content opportunities and challenges for a successful hyperlocal media sector in the UK. Nesta is currently working with eleven prototype projects3 from across the UK to test successful hyperlocal services.
Jon Kingsbury, Programme Director - Creative Economy, says, "Nesta's new research underpins the work we have been doing to encourage innovation and build knowledge for this nascent (and otherwise fragmented) sector. At Nesta, we think that the findings are as useful to traditional media players making the transition to hyperlocal as they are to individual bloggers."
Notes to editor:
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1 From the report UK Demand for Hyperlocal Media
The consumer research was commissioned by Nesta and undertaken by Kantar Media using a nationally representative omnibus survey.
The survey was conducted with adults aged sixteen plus in the United Kingdom (UK). Research was carried out via a face-to-face omnibus survey using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI). The total sample of 2,248 was collected over two waves of the omnibus to allow for a greater range of sampling points to be included. Sample was selected by random location sampling. The sample has been weighted to represent the adult population of the UK aged sixteen plus. Significance testing was at the 95% level. The survey was in field from 4 January 2013 to 13 January 2013.
2 Definition of hyperlocal media: Online news or content services pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or other small, geographically defined community
Nesta will be running a series of blogs from a selection of the Destination Local projects - which can be found here: http://www.nesta.org.uk/blogs/creative_economy_blog
3The eleven projects involved in Destination Local are:
Nesta is the UK's innovation foundation. We help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. We are an independent charity and our work is enabled by an endowment from the National Lottery.
Nesta Operating Company is a registered charity in England and Wales with a company number 7706036 and charity number 1144091. Registered as a charity in Scotland number SC042833. Registered office: 1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE