The New 'Me' Generation

It's Time to Map the Hyperlocal Terrain

By Published on .

The buzz from last year's book by Chris Anderson about the Long Tail got many of us to think about targeting niche audiences for our clients.

There's a term in the newspaper industry called "hyperlocal." It pertains to news coverage at a local and/or community level.
Noelle Weaver Noelle Weaver
But the drive to local interest and closer community groups doesn't stop with the rapid rise of hometown newspapers (the one saving grace for the news industry).

As a foodie I'm watching with curiosity how the language on prominent restaurant menus is changing from featuring "regional" and "organic" fare to "locally sourced produce," including a wine menu here in New York City that now highlights several Long Island or Hudson River Valley wines.

The more markets have globalized and opened the world for us, the more we as consumers are recognizing the value and importance of our local communities--whether that is the town we live in or the community of like-minded consumers we are finding online.

The internet is no stranger to this and, recognizing the trend, more search engines are beefing up their local search capabilities while new websites like Yelp! capitalize on the growing interest of all things local. Companies are getting in on the game too. A new start-up called Dash! announced this week that it was partnering with Yahoo Local allowing "users to search Yahoo for nearby products, services or businesses from their cars."

As a result of being able to tap into a smaller and smaller audience group in smaller and smaller market segments, even products and brands must segment themselves to appeal to the diverse array of opinions and lifestyle interests.

And that leads to a growing need to customize content and appeal "for me."

Marketers are not to be left out. We'll need to figure out how to further adapt. The 17-year-old is not interested in the same messages (or delivery) as the 30-year-old who communicates with his or her peers differently than the 54-year-old. Consequently the same holds true for the 34-year-old computer consultant who lives in South Bend, Indiana, and does not share the same life-style as the tech consultant in San Diego. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy anymore.

Our own industry is in need of figuring out how "hyperlocal" is affecting us. It will, in many ways, touch those of us who work in small agencies and secondary cities. It will affect the way we spend media, our communications planning and creative strategy and delivery. If we continue to blanket our messages across every blank space made available (relevant or not), our customers won't be much interested in what we have to say.

There's a great quote from a tech website called MetaFilter that I've used in new-business pitches. While it refers to the world of online information, I feel that it is relevant to our world to.

"I am an information junkie but what and how much I take in is very personal -- otherwise, of what use is it? Unless something is personally interesting or personally meaningful to you, don't pay it any mind. Seek out knowledge on a per-need (or per-obsession!) basis. Latch on only to those which touch you or move you. Don't be greedy. Filter your intake of information and media. You decide what's signal and what's noise in your life." – Lush, 4/13/05, Ask.Metfilter.com
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