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Good post, Chuck -- I need to show you the ad system in Neighborlogs. If local news sites are going to make a real, long-term go of it, they will need to optimize their ad offerings. You need the audience and community first, though, so WSB and all the young, growing sites are making all the right moves. But it is also to think about the bills. There are so many small business that currently have no place to advertise. Locally-focused content and reasonable advertising rates give them a whole new opportunity. Key is technology that allows these advertisers to participate without a lot of effort on their part or the small teams (often 1 person) running these sites. In addition to basic things like ad serving and rotation, here's what a local site should look for in an ad solution and what we're building the Neighborlogs ad system to do -- Self-serveOur system doesn't eliminate the sales process but it is designed around opening the process so a small advertiser can come to a site and have their message appear on it in minutes. We treat the set-up like a rate card so an advertiser can tell a site what she wants to spend and get a clear forecast on how much exposure they will get. You can see it in action on my 'hood site http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/ads/setup/positions Easy creativeWe serve any type of media but also have created HTML format templates that a small biz can use if they don't have money to spend on a designer. One cool byproduct of these is that some advertisers treat their ad like publishing since there is low cost of production. Network readyWe're building our system to be capable of managing a network of sites sharing inventory in a pool. This creates a second level of revenue for a site to sell above and beyond their premium direct sales on the site. Be indie in content and voice and business structure -- but think teamwork when it comes to creating a strong advertising offering on your site. A few more related thoughts about the local ad space in this post on our blog from a few weeks back. Justin http://neighborlogs.com
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