Destination Local: Read all about it!
We've been running our programme on hyperlocal media, called Destination Local for just over a year now.
In that time, we've published ground-breaking research on the landscape of hyperlocal publishers, on audience demand and on local advertising markets. We think that this original research puts the UK at the forefront of understanding this nascent and exciting media phenomenon.
But Nesta and its Destination Local partners didn't just commission research pieces. We also funded 10 prototype projects, designed to make the most of mobile technologies to deliver geographically-relevant media.
Our goal in funding the prototypes was to understand what business models might prove viable, what types of services work well with audiences and to better understand the opportunities and challenges of using mobile technologies. Today we publish the interim findings from these 10 projects.
What shines through from the projects is that the opportunities to engage audiences in new ways are wide-ranging and positive. Our prototypes have tested services as diverse as using augmented reality to open up access to local authority decision-making, through to providing new ways for consumers to re-engage with their local high street. There is clearly no shortage of innovation.
But what also becomes clear is that some of the challenges of the internet generally apply to hyperlocal media services as well. It can be difficult for new services to attract audiences and even if they do, it can be tough for services to monetise this attention. Consequently, many services struggle to turn a profit. Throughout the last 14 months or so, we've balanced the fact that many hyperlocal services are produced for public service motivations beyond that of profit, while at the same time needing to be financially sustainable in the long term.
Today's report is intended to provide the UK's media industry, practitioners and policy makers alike with some very tangible and practical tips to help support growth. These include:
- Hyperlocal media organisations should consider mutually-beneficial partnerships with larger media organisations
- Commercial hyperlocal media organisations need to join an existing or form a strong industry association to champion their cause
- Local authorities and other public bodies should engage more fully and positively with the hyperlocal media sector
- There is a role for the BBC to help drive traffic and attention to a broader range of hyperlocal media services
- Funding bodies, such as the Technology Strategy Board should consider funding platforms with the potential to nurture and support hyperlocal media services in the UK
Making these changes won't solve the challenges faced by hyperlocal media services overnight, but they will help provide a better platform for a new generation of media publishers to thrive in the future.